One Michigan State linebacker made headlines on Tuesday when he was announced to the preseason Butkus award watch list, given to the most valuable linebacker in college football since its creation back in 1985.
Darien Harris, a fifth-year senior who had career high performances in tackles (48) and tackles for loss (3.5) last season, was one of eight Big Ten players who earned a spot on the list.
Named after the former Illinois Illini and Chicago Bear great Dick Butkus, the trophy has been awarded to nine Big Ten linebackers in it's 30 year history. The last Spartan to earn the award was Perry Snow in 1989.
“Darien Harris is one of the top leaders not only on our defense but on our entire team,” MSU co-defensive coordinator Harlon Bennett said in a press release. “He’s well respected by his teammates. Darien is a smart football player and an outstanding tackler.
While Harris is expected to be start at the "Star" linebacker position in 2015, it's one player who didn't make the cut, which Mike Wilson of 247Sports pointed out, is rather surprising in Ed Davis.
Wilson called Davis an underappreciated player at the "Sam" position, playing alongside Harris and middle linebacker Riley Bullough in 2014. The Detroit Southeastern graduate finished last season with 58 tackles, 12 for a loss and seven sacks.
Other notable nominees from the Big Ten include Joe Bolden and James Ross III of Michigan and Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry.