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July 15, 2011
Manti Te'o ... Jordan Hicks ... Tony Steward.
The high school version of the Butkus Award is in just its fourth season, but the names of the first three winners show just how talented high school linebackers can be.
Fifty-one players (in honor of the number Dick Butkus wore with the Bears) from 19 states were placed on the pre-season watch list and will battle to become the fourth name on that list.
Georgia and Texas lead the way with seven nominees each. Florida and California both have six.
More impressively, two schools have two players.
Ukeme Eligwe and Raphael Kirby both play at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson; Joe Jackson and Reggie Northrup line up for Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast.
Noor Davis, an outside linebacker at Leesburg (Fla.) High is the highest-rated player in the Rivals250 on the watch. Davis, who has said he is heading to Stanford, is ranked as the No. 30 overall player in the country.
Semifinalist for the award will be announced on Oct. 24 with finalists picked on Nov. 22. The winner will be notified before Dec. 7. Players not on the first watch list are still eligible to be selected.
With that, a look at the list: