Nov. 23, 2010
UCLA redshirt junior Akeem Ayers, one of the best and most versatile defensive players in the nation, has been named one of five finalists for the Dick Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate linebacker.
The other four finalists are Bruce Carter of North Carolina, Justin Houston of Georgia, Luke Kuechly of Boston College and Von Miller of Texas A&M. The finalists were selected by a panel of 51 coaches, scouts and journalists supervised by Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly. Winners will be announced between December 5-8.
Ayers is currently fourth on the UCLA team with 59 tackles, first with 4.0 sacks and tied for first with 9.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. He is T-22nd in the Pac-10 in tackles (5.90), T-12th in interceptions (0.20), T-ninth (tied) in fumbles forced (0.20), T-fifth (tied) in fumbles recovered (0.20), T-19th (tied) in passes defensed (0.60), T-eighth in tackles for loss (0.95) and T-16th in sacks (0.40).
In the opener at Kansas State, he recorded a career-high 11 tackles, including a sack. He also recovered a fumble and tipped a pass. Against Stanford, he made seven tackles, 0.5 for loss, and broke up a pass. Against Houston, he made five tackles, two for loss. He also intercepted a pass at the goal line and returned it 77 yards late in the first half.
At Texas, playing both linebacker and end, he made six tackles, including a sack and a second stop for loss. He caused a fumble with his sack and made his second interception of the year. In the win over WSU, he collected four tackles, including a sack on which he forced and recovered a fumble on WSU's final possession. In the win over Oregon State, he made six tackles, including one sack and a second stop for loss. He tied for the team high with eight tackles, including 0.5 for loss, at Washington.