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Notre Dame Football: J.D. Bertrand, Marist Liufau Earn Butkus Award Watch List Selections

Can either add to Notre Dame’s recent dominance?

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

From the Notre Dame press release:

J.D. Bertrand, Marist Liufau Selected For Butkus Award Watch List

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — University of Notre Dame football seniors J.D. Bertrand and Marist Liufau have been selected for the 2023 Butkus Award Watch List. The award is presented annually to the top collegiate linebacker in the nation.

Bertrand led the Irish with 82 total tackles in 2022, following up on his 101 team-leading total in 2021 when he became the first Irish defender in three seasons to post triple-digits in tackles. He piled up 8.5 tackles for loss in ‘22 as well and boasts 190 career tackles.

Liufau is one of the most athletic linebackers in the nation. He finished third on the team in tackles in ‘22 with 51, which included 4.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery. Entering his third season as a starting linebacker in 2023, Liufau has 73 career tackles to his credit.

The number of linebackers on the watch list, 51, is a nod to the storied “51” pro jersey worn by the award’s namesake, Dick Butkus, who was named by NFL Films as the greatest defensive player in football history.

Founded in 1985, the Butkus Award honors linebackers at three levels while supporting causes important to the Butkus family. Causes include the Butkus Takes Heart™ initiative encouraging early cardiovascular screening among adults, and the I Play Clean® initiative encouraging athletes to train naturally without performance-enhancing drugs.

A 51-member expert panel of coaches, scouts, and journalists guides the selection process. The award semifinalists are expected to be named Oct. 30 with finalists to follow Nov. 20. The winner will be named on or before Dec. 6. Appearing on the watch list is not a requirement to win the award.