By Josh Casey
BOULDER--The name itself has echoed through these halls before. It has come to exemplify the talents and abilities of only the very best, qualities once personified by Buffs by the names of Williams, Johnson, Russell, and Dizon. Now, in continuation of a long standing legacy, Derrick Webb has become the latest to be recognized as a potential recipient of the prestigious Butkus Award handed out annually to the nation’s top linebacker.
The award is named after college and pro football hall of fame linebacker, Dick Butkus who combined superb athletic talent, with immense leadership skills and a tireless work ethic, characteristics which eventually became the standard for which the award is measured.
Just like the Buffaloes players of the past who have won or flirted with the award, Webb’s performance on and off the field has garnered him a reputation that has grown to the point that it finally became too much for college football’s higher authorities to ignore. Last season, he made nine starts at the will linebacker spot and led the team in both tackles and third down stops. In addition to his stellar play at linebacker, Webb has made a big impact on special teams throughout this career. His 74 points in three seasons are the fourth most in school history.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to be mentioned with some of the great linebackers to come before me here at CU,” said Webb. “There’s a great linebacker tradition here so whenever I hear the word, Butkus I get excited.”
Colorado is one of only seven schools to claim at least two Butkus winners since the award’s inception in 1985. Alfred Williams won the award in 1990 and Matt Russell took home the honors in 1996. Ted Johnson was runner-up for the award in 1994 and Jordon Dizon finished second in 2007.
“It would be awesome to win an award like that and continue the legacy,” said Webb. “It’s something nobody can take away and it’ll always be there. It’s kind of a legacy for me to leave at Colorado too. It’s something that will stay here from now on.”
Webb’s pursuit of the Butkus adds to a long list of objectives the senior has set before himself in preparation for his final season on campus. While also serving as a team captain for a second consecutive season, he plans to help lead his team to its first bowl game since 2007 and to work and play at such a level that he will exit the program with absolutely no regrets.
“It’s my senior year so I haven’t been holding back any,” said Webb. “Just full speed ahead, working as hard as I can so I can leave no regrets out there for my last year.”
No matter what individual honors are bestowed upon him this season, nothing means more to Webb than the fact that he was one of six players to be named a team captain last month. He becomes just the sixth Buff ever to be named a captain for the season twice.
“I think it says a lot,” said Webb. “It says I’ve earned the respect of my teammates. That’s something that I really appreciate. Them showing that they trust me and trust how I lead the team and what I do on and off the field.”
Webb certainly isn’t the only CU player who earned mention an a major college football award watch list as all of them released their lists strategically over the past two weeks.
In all, seven Buffs are on a list for nine awards:
- Sophomore Christian Powell is one of 59 running backs on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award. Powell rushed for 691 yards and seven touchdowns on 158 rushes as a true freshman last season. Rashaan Salaam won the Doak Walker award in 1994, the same season he also won the Walter Camp Award and Heisman Trophy, given to the nation’s best player.
- Junior Paul Richardson is one of 75 players on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award despite not playing last season. Richardson two years ago had 39 catches for 555 yards and seven touchdowns, including a monster game against Cal where he caught 11 passes for a school record 284 yards.
- Senior Chidera Uzo-Diribe is one of 76 players on the watch list for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player. Uzo-Diribe will be looked upon to better his numbers of 5-and-a-half sacks and three forced fumbles in 2013.
- Junior Darragh O’Neill is one of 25 players on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award. O’Neill averaged 42.6 yards per punt and had a net average of 38.8 yards a season ago. John Torp won the second ever Ray Guy Award in 2005, although the Buffs have a long history of All-Americans at the position dating back before the award was handed out.
- Senior Gus Handler is one of 44 on the watch list for the Rimington Award, giving to the nation’s top center. He graded out over 80 percent for the season and had a season best of 90.1 against Arizona.
- Sophomore Marques Mosley (special teams), O’Neill (punter) and Richardson (wide receiver) are all on the initial watch lists for the College Football Performance Awards, a computer-based system that gives out a performer of the week throughout the season and then awards players of the year at each position.
“All these individual accolades say a lot about our team,” said Webb. “Most of the time when the top guys on your team are achieving great things individually it makes for a better team which will make us better. The more positive recognition we can get is good for our team and good for the university.”
While the individual achievements of each player signify a certain amount of accomplishment in its own right, players like Webb know that the most important accomplishment will be indicated by the results the team as a whole produces on the field. He understands that wins and losses are the only thing that could ever truly separate a positive season from a forgetful one. That realization is yet another example of why, whether he wins the award or not, Webb already embodies every quality the Butkus Award stands for.
Webb and the rest of the Buffaloes are closing in on the final couple of weeks of summer. Players report for fall camp on Monday, August 5 and the first practice for the 2013 season is August 6.