LOGAN, Utah – Utah State senior linebacker Kyler Fackrell has been named to both the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List and Butkus Award Watch List, it was announced Tuesday morning by each respective organization.
In addition, Aggie junior linebacker Nick Vigil joined Fackrell on the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, which features 145 players, including 13 from the Mountain West and six more from the Beehive State. BYU’s three candidates are senior defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, senior linebacker Manoa Pikula and sophomore offensive lineman Tejan Koroma, while Utah junior defensive end Hunter Dimick was also recognized.
Both Fackrell and Vigil are also on the Chuck Bednarik Watch List, which is presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year. Fackrell, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound native of Mesa, Ariz., is a 2015 Preseason Phil Steele tirst-team all-Mountain West and Athlon Sports first-team all-Mountain West selection, as well.
Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage. The candidates earned a place on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams or receiving 2015 preseason honors.
The Butkus Award honors the nation’s best linebacker and is represented by 51 candidates, honoring the retired professional jersey of Dick Butkus, who is regarded by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. Joining Fackrell on the watch list is Colorado State’s Cory James, along with Utah’s Jared Norris and Jason Wittingham.
Fackrell played in just one game as a junior in 2014 as he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter of the season-opener at Tennessee.
Following the 2013 season, Fackrell was named an honorable mention Sophomore All-American by College Football News and earned second-team all-Mountain West honors as he finished the year ranking first on the team with 13.0 tackles for loss, tied for first with two forced fumbles and second with his 5.0 sacks, while ranking fourth on the team with 82 total tackles (37-solo, 45-assist). Overall, Fackrell averaged 5.9 tackles per game to rank 35th in the Mountain West.
During the season, Fackrell recorded three quarterback hurries, recovered one fumble, intercepted one pass and registered one pass breakup. He was named the Mountain West’s Defensive Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Linebacker of the Week following USU’s 47-10 home win against Hawai’i as he recorded nine tackles, including 0.5 for loss, to go along with an interception return of 99 yards for his first career defensive touchdown, which ranks as the third-longest interception return in Utah State and Mountain West history.
Vigil, a 6-2, 230-pounder from Plain City, Utah, earned first-team all-Mountain West honors as a sophomore as he ranked first on the team in forced fumbles (5), tied for first in quarterback hurries (6), second in tackles (123) and tackles for loss (16.5), and third in sacks (7.0), while adding two pass breakups and one interception. Overall, he ranked first in the MW and tied for seventh in the nation in fumbles forced (0.38 pg), fourth in the MW and tied for 29th in the nation in tackles (9.5 pg), fourth in the MW and tied for 30th in the nation in tackles for loss (1.27 pg), and sixth in the MW in sacks (0.54 pg). In all, he had six double-digit tackle outings on the season, including a career-high 15 tackles at Tennessee.
The Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List will be updated prior to the start of the 2015 season in order to identify other players who have received significant preseason honors.
The watch list is intended as a reference tool for the selection committee and will be periodically updated and revised through the conclusion of the voting to determine the 12 semifinalists for 2015. The list includes Arizona junior linebacker Scooby Wright III, the 2014 Rotary Lombardi Award winner.
The 46th Rotary Lombardi Award ceremony will be held Dec. 9, 2015, at the Bayou Music Center in Houston, Texas. Proceeds from the Rotary Lombardi Awards stay in the Houston community and benefit the American Cancer Society, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centers / Children’s Cancer Hospital, and Texas Children’s Cancer Center. For more information on the schedule of events, please visit www.rotarylombardiaward.org.
The Butkus Award Watch List includes candidates from 35 universities and eight conferences. It includes returning finalist and 2012 high school Butkus Award winner Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame and four returning semifinalists: Alabama’s Reggie Ragland, UCLA’s Myles Jack, Georgia’s Jordan Jenkins and Oklahoma’s Eric Striker.
A selection panel of 51 deeply experienced coaches, evaluators and journalists will narrow the Butkus Award field by private ballot. Semifinalists will be named Nov. 2, finalists on Nov. 23 and winners will be notified on or before Dec. 8.
Over the last three years, Utah State is one of just four Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools to win at least 30 games and three bowl games, joining Clemson, Michigan State and Oregon. Furthermore, USU has played in four-straight bowl games, winning each of its last three, both of which are school records.
Utah State will open the 2015 season on Thursday, Sept. 3, at home against Southern Utah and will begin Mountain West play on Saturday, Oct. 3, at home against Colorado State.
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