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Illinois linebacker Mason Monheim named to 2015 Dick Butkus Award watch list

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Illini senior is among eight Big Ten players on the preseason watch list, given to the nation's top linebacker and named after Illinois legend and Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois senior linebacker Mason Monheim was named to the Dick Butkus Award watch list for the second straight season Tuesday.

The award is given to the top college football linebacker and named after the greatest linebacker in college football history in former Illini Dick Butkus.

Monheim ranks second-most among active FBS players with 294 career tackles entering his senior season. He recorded career-high in tackles (111), tackles for loss (6.5), passes defended (4) and forced fumbles (4). He also led the Big Ten conference and ranked 17th in FBS with 0.31 forced fumbles per game.

The Orrville, Ohio native was also named to the Lombardi Award watch list Tuesday, given to the nation's best down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball or linebackers, who are farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.

Monheim is one of eight Big Ten linebackers on the watch list, including Maryland's Yannick Ngakoue; Michigan's Joe Bolden, Darien Harris and James Ross; Minnesota's De'Vondre Campbell; and Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry.

Penn State's Paul Posluszny was the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2005. Eight Big Ten players have won the ward in its history, as have two from pre-Big Ten Era Nebraska and Maryland. Most recently, Ohio State's James Laurinaitis took it home in 2007.

An Illini player hasn't won the award since 1995 when Kevin Hardy kept the trophy in Champaign after Dana Howard won it the year before.

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