USC’s Su’a Cravens, Anthony Sarao on Butkus Award 2015 Watch List


USC’s Su’a Cravens and Anthony Sarao were named to the 2015 Butkus Award watch list Tuesday as candidates to be named the nation’s best linebacker this season.

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Cravens appears on his third watch list of the preseason, with his name already featured on the Bednarik and Nagurksi watch lists for the defensive player of the year.

The junior hybrid linebacker thrived in his first year at the position in 2014 after earning Freshman All-American status as a first year start in 2013.

Named to the All-Pac-12 first team and a number of All-American third team and honorable mentions as a sophomore, Cravens will look to take the next step as a leader on USC’s defense.

Last year, he tallied 68 tackles, including 17 tackles for loss, and three interceptions. The latter two marks topped all Trojans.

This is Sarao’s first appearance on a watch list for 2015. A redshirt senior, Sarao is projected to start for his third year as the weakside linebacker for USC.

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Since taking over for the injured Lamar Dawson at the position midway through 2013, Sarao has proven a capable defender. Last year, he logged 74 tackles, three deflections and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown against UCLA.

Cravens and Sarao are two of 51 players on the Butkus watch list, which limits candidates to 51 in honor of Dick Butkus’ jersey number. There are 51 members on the selection panel as well.

USC boasts just one Butkus Award winner in its history — Chris Claiborne in 1998. Matt Grootegoed, Rey Maualuga, and Brian Cushing were finalists for the award.

Last year, UCLA’s Eric Kendricks won the award for the collegiate level. Bruin teammates Myles Jack made the watch list this year, along with Travis Feeney and Cory Littleton of Washington, Peter Kalambavi and Blake Martinez of Stanford, Jason Wittingham and Jared Norris of Utah and Scooby Wright of Arizona, as representatives of the Pac-12.