CHICAGO, Ill.—Tennessee redshirt senior linebacker Darrell Taylor was named to the 35th annual Butkus Award Watch List, as announced Monday by the Butkus Foundation.
The Butkus Award, named in honor of hall of fame linebacker Dick Butkus, has honored the nation’s top collegiate linebacker since 1985.
Taylor is the first Tennessee linebacker to be included on the Butkus Watch List since Jalin Reeves-Maybin in 2016.
Taylor’s eight sacks in 2018 are the most of any returning player in the SEC. The Hopewell, Va., native added 11.0 tackles for loss and 36 total stops as an outside linebacker. Taylor was one of only two Power 5 players to notch two three-sack games in 2018. He had a three-sack game at No. 2 Georgia, adding a pair of forced fumbles against the Bulldogs. Additionally, Taylor notched four sacks in the 24-7 upset win over No. 11 Kentucky, becoming just the third Vol with four sacks in a game all-time. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week and won several national defensive awards following his performance against the Wildcats.
Tennessee has had two finalists for the Butkus Award in Keith DeLong in 1988 and Raynoch Thompson in 1999.
The Tennessee Volunteer football team kicks off year two of the Jeremy Pruitt era at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 when Georgia State comes to Neyland Stadium.
WOOD-ANDERSON, KENNEDY EARN SPOTS ON PRESEASON WATCH LISTS
Watch list season is in full swing as two more Tennessee players earned preseason recognition on Friday afternoon.
Senior tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson and redshirt senior center Brandon Kennedy were named to the preseason watch lists for the John Mackey Award and the Rimington Trophy, respectively.
Given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end, the Mackey Award recipient is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee. The 2019 Mackey Award recipient will be announced on Dec. 11 and then presented live on Dec. 12 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show on ESPNU.
Wood-Anderson is entering his second season at Tennessee after starring for two years at junior college powerhouse Arizona Western. In his first season on Rocky Top, Wood-Anderson appeared in 11 games, starting 10 of them, and finished with 17 catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. The San Diego, Calif., native scored the Vols’ first touchdown of the 2018 season on a 1-yard reception on fourth down against West Virginia in his collegiate debut. Wood-Anderson also had a career-high four catches and scored a touchdown in UT’s upset victory over No. 11 Kentucky.
Wood-Anderson is the first Vols’ tight end to be named to the Mackey preseason watch list since Ethan Wolf in 2017. VFLs Jason Witten (2002) and Luke Stocker (2010) are the only two Tennessee players to be named semifinalists for the award in program history.
The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I College Football and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season. Since its inception, the award has raised over $4.2 million for the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which is committed to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.
The Rimington Trophy Committee released a preseason watch list consisting of 80 centers representing every Division I FBS conference. Like Wood-Anderson, Kennedy is also entering his second season as a member of the Tennessee football team after spending his first three years at Alabama where he played in 10 games for the Crimson Tide.
Kennedy started UT’s season opener in the Belk College Kickoff game against West Virginia in Charlotte last season before sustaining a season-ending injury in practice the next week. The Wetumpka, Ala., native was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in the Fall of 2018 and is expected to anchor the Vols’ offensive line this season.