Olson only FCS player named to Butkus Award Watch List

 CHICAGO- The preseason accolades continue to roll in for Montana senior linebacker Dante Olson, today named to the 35th annual Butkus Award collegiate watch list honoring the nation’s top Division-I linebacker.

He is the only player from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to make the list.

Olson is also only the second player in Montana history, and the second in as many years to be named to the prestigious watch list following Josh Buss’ recognition in 2018. Devin White of Louisiana State won the Butkus Award that season before being selected fifth in the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Since 1984, the Butkus Foundation and its 51-person selection panel have honored the nation’s 51 best linebackers at the professional, college, and high school levels, mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey associated with the award’s namesake Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history.

The collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 39 universities, including returning finalist Dylan Moses of Alabama who won the 2016 high school Butkus Award and returning semifinalist Markus Bailey of Purdue.

Olson, a 6-3, 237-pound senior from Medford, Ore., is coming off one of the most productive defensive seasons in Montana and Big Sky Conference history with a school-record and FCS-best 151 total tackles.

He has since been named to seven All-America teams, was a top-three finalist for the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award, earned first-team all-conference honors, and was named Montana’s Steve Carlson team MVP.

Last week in Spokane, Wash., Olson was named the Big Sky Preseason Defensive MVP and has also been named to the Athlon Sports and HERO Sports 2019 Preseason All-America Teams, as well as the College Football America Yearbook’s 2019 FCS Preseason Starting Lineup.

Other players to join the Butkus Award Watch List with Olson who are already in the conversation to be a rare defensive Heisman Trophy candidate include Joe Bachie of Michigan State, Shaq Quarterman of Miami (Fl.), and Troy Dye of Oregon, who will go head-to-head against Olson and the Grizzlies on week three in Eugene.

The Butkus Foundation’s 51-person selection panel is made up of a who’s-who of college and professional football, including head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, Howie Roseman, the Executive VP of Football Operations for the Philadelphia Eagles, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, College Gameday’s Kirk Herbstreit, NFL legend Mike Singletary, and John Dorsey, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

Semifinalists will be named November 4, finalists November 25, and winners on or before December 10. Appearing on the watch list is not a requirement to win the award.

The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935.

Olson and the Grizzlies open the 2019 campaign at South Dakota on August 31. UM will return to Missoula for the home opener on September 7, under the lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Season and single-game tickets are now on sale for Montana’s 12-game schedule and can be purchased at the Adams Center Box Office, over the phone at 1-888-MONTANA, and at GrizTix.com.

2019 Butkus Award Watch List

Joe Bachie, Michigan State
Markus Bailey, Purdue
Mohamed Barry, Nebraska
Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Tuf Borland, Ohio State
Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
Cameron Brown, Penn State
T.J. Brunson, South Carolina
Calvin Bundage, Oklahoma State
K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
Michael Divinity Jr., LSU
Troy Dye, Oregon
Tony Fields II, Arizona
Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
Cale Garrett, Missouri
Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
Malik Harrison, Ohio State
Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
Dontavious Jackson, Florida State
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Clay Johnston, Baylor
Nate Landman, Colorado
Sage Lewis, FIU
Terrell Lewis, Alabama
Kamal Martin, Minnesota
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Dante Olson, Montana
Micah Parsons, Penn State
Jacob Phillips, LSU
Michael Pickney, Miami (Fla.)
Shaquille Quarterman, Miami (Fla.)
Patrick Queen, LSU
Chapelle Russell, Temple
Mohamed Sanogo, Mississippi
Colin Schooler, Arizona
Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Charles Snowden, Virginia
Justin Strnad, Wake Forest
Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
Davion Taylor, Colorado
Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State
Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
Joshua Uche, Michigan
Mykal Walker, Fresno State
Evan Weaver, California
Javin White, UNLV
Logan Wilson, Wyoming
David Woodward, Utah State

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