Best All-Time College Football Linebacker
So, who is the greatest college football linebacker in history? Dick Butkus. Just hearing the name brings fear to the eyes of QB’s who played against him. Dick Butkus earned the title through good old-fashioned blood, sweat, tears, and pain.
In spite of the fact that Butkus grew up in Chicago, he was not known for being a huge Chicago Bears fan while young, but was known to catch the Thanksgiving Day games – against the Lions of course.
Before going on to the NFL, Butkus’ college football career covered the years from 1962 through 1964. As a college football linebacker (and a center), Butkus was twice named an “All-American” -- 1963 and 1964.
Also during 1963, Butkus received the award of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football, and was also named the Big Ten Most Valuable Player. Then, in 1964, Butkus was named the American Football Association’s Player of the Year. Pretty impressive for such a short span in ones college years playing ball. You don’t get awards like that by not putting your heart and soul into everything you do.
After his record-breaking NCAA career with the University of Illinois, Butkus moved on to the pro game and in 1979 earned a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Four year later, in 1983, Butkus was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Even as a linebacker in his college football days, Butkus balloted as high as sixth for the Heisman Trophy in 1963, only to follow that up by balloting third in 1964. That’s a rare feet for a defensive player – back to back top 6 finishes in the Heisman voting.
Dick Butkus, Illinois - the Best Linebacker October 12, 1964. Thanks to flickr.com for the picture. Source: Save vs Death
Butkus is one of only two college football players to have their jersey retired by the University of Illinois. His jersey number was 50. Butkus was so memorable as a college football linebacker that the College Football Award for the best linebacker each year is now called the Butkus Award. This single fact alone places Butkus as the best all time college football linebacker in college football history.
Even after Butkus’ playing days were behind him, he never left football entirely. The best all-time college football linebacker was received with open arms by his innumerable fans on the big and small screens as a sportscaster, actor, and all-around great guy.
It’s tough to argue with Butkus as the best linebacker in football history.
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