Here is the official release:
TUSCALOOSA â€“ Alabama junior linebacker Rolando McClain was named one of five finalists for the 2009 Dick Butkus Award on Friday. The award has been presented annually to the best linebacker in college football since 1985.
McClain is joined by Sergia Kindle (Texas), Eric Norwood (South Carolina), Brandon Spikes (Florida) and Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri) as this yearâ€™s finalists. McClain, Spikes and Weatherspoon were all finalists last year.
The Butkus Award is named after Dick Butkus, who is considered one of the greatest football players in history. Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School.
The Decatur, Ala., native is the heart and soul of the Crimson Tide defense this season, anchoring a unit that leads the SEC and ranks second nationally in rushing defense, allowing 2.4 yards per play and 72.8 yards per game this season.
In addition, the Tide defense ranks second nationally in scoring defense (10.9 ppg) and third nationally in total defense (239.3 ypg). The Crimson Tide has held eight of its first 10 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing and five opponents to less than 215 total yards in a game. Alabama has also held five teams to a touchdown or less this season.
McClain leads the team with 77 tackles and has also added 10.0 tackles for loss (-45 yards), three sacks (-26 yards), two interceptions (21 return yards), one pass breakup, eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble that led to a touchdown.
McClainâ€™s play has garnered him extensive national recognition. He was the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week after his 12-tackle performance against Kentucky on Oct. 3. He was named the Lott Trophy IMPACT Defensive Player of the Week following the Tideâ€™s 20-6 win over South Carolina on Oct. 17.
Earlier this season, he was named a midseason All-American by Sporting News and is also a semifinalist for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, along with the Lombardi Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the best defensive player in the nation.
Former Alabama All-American Derrick Thomas won the Butkus Award in 1988. This yearâ€™s winner is to be announced on Dec. 8, 2009.