ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 26: Yawin Smallwood #33 of the Connecticut Huskies watches the action during the game against the UCF Knights at Bright House Networks Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
It's a sliver of sunshine in the dark cloud that has become the 2013 season for UConn's football team: Linebacker Yawin Smallwood is a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award, which annually honors the nation's best linebackers at the collegiate, professional and high school levels.
Details from Monday's press release:
Smallwood, a 2012 All-Big East First Team selection, was named to virtually every preseason national defensive award watch list this year, and has not disappointed thus far. The redshirt junior is UConn’s leading tackler with 79 stops in 2013, good for 11.3 per game. That mark is second in The American and sixth in the nation.
In addition to his 79 tackles, Smallwood has added 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and three passes defended. He has accumulated double digit tackles in five of seven games, including a career-high 16 in the season opener vs. Towson on Aug. 29. He also had a 13-tackle, one sack performance against then-No. 14 Michigan on Sept. 21, for which he was named CBSSports.com National Defensive Player Of The Week.
The list of the other college semi-finalists include:
Anthony Barr, UCLA
Lamin Barrow, Louisiana State University
Chris Borland, University of Wisconsin
Khairi Fortt, University of California
Khalil Mack, University at Buffalo
C.J. Mosley, University of Alabama
Denzel Perryman, University of Miami (Fla.)
Trevor Reilly, University of Utah
Ryan Shazier, The Ohio State University
Shayne Skov, Stanford University
Kyle Van Noy, Brigham Young University.
* Mosley was also a semi-finalist in 2012