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Nov. 11, 2004

Orlando, Fla. – University of Virginia sophomore linebacker Ahmad Brooks is one of three finalists for the 2004 Butkus Award announced today by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando. The award is presented annually to college football’s best linebacker.

Joining Brooks, the youngest player among the finalists, are senior Matt Grootegoed from Southern California and senior Derrick Johnson from Texas. Johnson was a finalist for the award last year, while Grootegoed was a semifinalist that season.

Brooks leads the Cavaliers in tackling this season with an average of 7.8 tackles per game. He has made seven tackles for loss and leads the team with six quarterback sacks. He also leads the team with four pass break-ups, two interceptions and nine quarterback pressures. He has led the team in tackling on four occasions this season and has three games of 10+ stops this season. He has been a vital cog in an aggressive defense that ranks seventh in points allowed and ninth in total defense nationally.

He was named the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his play in UVa’s 16-0 win over Maryland last Saturday. In that game he led the way with six tackles and two QB pressures. He also had two acrobatic interceptions to halt Maryland drives. The Cavaliers held the Terrapins to 51 yards rushing, their second-lowest figure of the season and more than 80 under their average. Maryland also gained just 214 yards of offense, more than 100 under its average.

Grootegoed has 47 tackles, including 9.5 for losses (with two sacks), along with a team-high four interceptions, and three pass break-ups deflections.

Johnson leads Texas with 107 tackles this season, including 14 for loss, nine QB pressures and an interception.

The list of finalists was determined by confidential balloting of the 30-member Butkus Award® Selection Committee, comprised of the nation’s foremost media members. The Selection Committee made its selections from the Butkus Award® Semi-Finalists comprised of 12 college linebackers, which was announced back on Oct. 14, 2004. The independent selection committee is solely responsible for all voting in the selection process. Selection Committee members have already started evaluating the finalists and will continue their review throughout the entire football season.

On Friday, Dec. 10th, the DACO celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Butkus Award ® with a black tie Gala at the Renaissance Orlando Resort at Sea World. This festive evening will begin with a cocktail reception and Silent Auction at 6:30 PM followed by a three-course gourmet dinner. The Butkus Award® presentation, emceed by former Butkus winner and ESPN analyst Trev Alberts, will honor each of this year’s finalists, as well as past winners. The culmination of the evening is the announcement of the 2004 recipient. Reservations for the Butkus award® Gala evening may be made by contacting the DACO office at 407-774-7813.

The Butkus Award ® is regarded as one of the most elite individual honors in college football. Past recipients include such outstanding linebackers as: Teddy Lehman (2003-Oklahoma); E.J. Henderson (2002-Maryland); Rocky Calmus (2001-Oklahoma); Dan Morgan (2000-U. of Miami); LaVar Arrington (1999-Penn State); Chris Claiborne (1998-Southern California); Andy Katzenmoyer (1997-Ohio State); Matt Russell (1996 Colorado); Kevin Hardy (1995-Illinois); Dana Howard (1994-Illinois); Trev Alberts (1993-Nebraska); Marvin Jones (1992-Florida State); Erick Anderson (1991-Michigan); Alfred Williams (1990-Colorado); Percy Snow (1989-Michigan State); Derrick Thomas (1988-Alabama); Paul McGowan (1997-Florida State); and Brian Bosworth (1985 and 1986-Oklahoma). Created in 1985 by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando Inc., the Butkus Award® carries the name and support of one of the greatest middle linebackers in football history, Dick Butkus.

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