AHS’s Johnson named as Butkus finalist

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 28, 2008

Andalusia High School’s Nico Johnson was named Friday as one of 12 high school finalists for the 24th annual Butkus Award honoring the nation’s top football linebackers.

It is the first time ever candidates have been chosen from the nation’s high schools. The category includes 12 candidates from high schools in eight states.

The Butkus Award is selected by a 51-person panel comprised mostly of scouts, coaches and journalists, and coordinated by Hub Arkush of ProFootball Weekly. Selectors follow all rules of their leagues, including NFL coaches avoiding contact with collegiate candidates, and collegiate coaches avoiding contact and not voting on high school candidates. Individual votes remain confidential.

Other high school finalists include Tana Patrick, North Jackson High School, Stevenson, Ala.; Marquis Simmons, Dominguez High School, Compton, Calif.; Frankie Telfort, Gulliver Prep, Miami, Fla.; Willie Ferrell, FAMU High School, Tallahassee, Fla.; C.J. Mizell, Leon High School, Tallahassee, Fla.; Jarvis Jones, Carver High School, Columbus, Ga.; Kevin Minter, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, Ga.; Manti Te’o, Punahou High School, Honolulu, Hi.; Jelani Jenkins, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Wheaton, Md.; Chris Norman, Renaissance High School, Detroit, Mich.; Dorian Bell, Gateway High School, Monroeville, Pa.

Collegiate finalists: Rolando McClain, Alabama; Mark Herzlich, Boston College; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Rennie Curran, Georgia; Perry Riley and Darry Beckwith, LSU; Sean Witherspoon, Mo.; James Laurinaitis, Ohio State; Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, USC; Clint Sintim, Virginia, and Aaron Curry, Wake Forest.

Winners in both categories are expected to be announced the week of Dec. 8, and a professional honoree will be selected in early January.

“This award is about honoring linebackers, and reminding them that they have a responsibility to serve as role models and to give back to society,” said Dick Butkus, the award’s namesake.