Georgia’s junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith got a visit from legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus on Friday before the Bulldogs’ practice.
Butkus was meeting Smith in person for the first time since the Bulldog linebacker earned the 2017 Butkus Award in early December. The Butkus Award is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding linebacker. In doing so, Smith is the first Georgia player to win the Butkus Award, where he garnered 60 percent of the first-place votes and 40 percent of the overall weighted vote, which is a greater margin than any linebacker in the past decade.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) December 29, 2017
In addition to winning the Butkus Award, Smith racked up honors and recognition for his performance on and off the field as a junior with the University of Georgia football team. Over 13 games, Smith racked up a team-leading 113 tackles this season, including 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 quarterback sacks along with two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
He was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award as well as being voted both the Associated Press and Coaches SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Smith was named to the 2017 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) First All-America Team and also was named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press, Bleacher Report, College Football Madness, ESPN, SI.com, Sporting News, The All-American, and Walter Camp, which makes him a unanimous NCAA First Team All-America.
Roquan Smith becomes the fourth Bulldog over the last 20 years to earn unanimous NCAA First Team All-America honors joining Champ Bailey (1998), Drew Butler (2009) and Jarvis Jones (2011-12).
In the Heisman Trophy Award voting, Smith finished tenth. That may not seem all that impressive, but it is rare for a defensive player to be considered for the Heisman Trophy. The last defensive player to win the coveted college football award was Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997. The last 20 years has seen either a quarterback or running back take home the Heisman. Before that, you have to go back all the way to 1961 and Syracuse’s Ernie Davis who played linebacker as well as fullback and halfback for the Orangemen. In fact, since it was first awarded in 1935, Woodson and Davis are the only two players on the defensive side of the ball to have won the Heisman.
Now, No. 3 looks to add to star-studded season with a Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma on New Year’s Day and trip back to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
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