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Dizon Finishes As A Runner-Up In Butkus Race

Courtesy: David Plati, Associate AD/Sports Information
Release: December 07, 2007
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By CUBuffs.com
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ORLANDO, Fla. —University of Colorado inside linebacker Jordon Dizon finished as one of two runners-up for the Butkus Award, which was presented to Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis here Friday night for being named as the nation’s top linebacker by a national panel of 39 voters.


Laurinaitis was most gracious and humble in accepting the award, at one point noting that he “felt like I’ve stolen it from these two guys and am taking the trophy back to Columbus.”  Penn State’s Dan Connor was the other finalist.


It was evident at the Butkus Award banquet that this group of finalists not only all exemplified what being a college football player is all about, but all spoke highly of all the people around them that enabled the three to earn finalist status.  Each was presented with a plaque for being named a finalist; Laurinaitis was also a finalist in 2006.


Dizon, a 6-0, 225-pound senior, played his prep ball at Waimea High School on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, was the fourth Colorado linebacker to be named a finalist for the award; joining previous winners Alfred Williams (1990) and Matt Russell (1996) along with ’94 runner-up Ted Johnson.


Butkus Committee officials did not reveal how close the final voting was, and were only notified of the winner themselves from their accountants who certified the vote Friday afternoon.


He was bidding to become the third trophy winner who hailed from the state of Hawaii; the other two were both from Honolulu: Nebraska’s Dominic Raiola (St. Louis High School), winner of the 2000 Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center, and Hawaii’s Chad Owens (Roosevelt High) who claimed the final Mosi Tatupu Award as the nation’s top special teams performer in 2004.


Both Dizon and CU linebacker coach Brian Cabral wore maile leis, a vine from the mountains of Hawai’i that some consider very sacred. They represent honor, respect and love.


Cabral was emotional at times in his introduction speech of Dizon.


 “He epitomizes and embodies the core values of Colorado football, and that’s work ethic, mental and physical toughness, attention to details, and leadership,” he said.  “Jordon has led by example, outworking, out-sprinting, out-practicing, out-preparing and out-competing the competition.”


 “Being from Hawai’i, I can say that the entire state of Hawai’i is proud of him, and that the state of Colorado is proud as well,” Cabral added.  “I can honestly say in my 19 years coaching linebackers at Colorado, I have never enjoyed coaching and watching someone play more than Jordon.  Who would have thought this kid from a small town, if you can even call it a town, from a small island would do as well as Jordon has.  When people ask me why I enjoy coaching, young men like Jordon are the reason.”


Dizon thanked numerous family members in attendance, including his mother and her boyfriend who traveled in from Hawai’I, his maternal grandparents and a cousin, as well as his high school coach at Waimea, John Kobayashi and his Pop Warner coach, Edmond Acoba, both of whom also attended the banquet.  Teammate and fellow Hawaiian R.J. Brown spent his own money to attend.


“A lot of people probably spent more time on planes than they actually did here (in Orlando),” Dizon mused on the podium.  “I have to thank them all for their tremendous support.  I’ve got to give a shout out to my defensive line, who made things easy for me, and to my fellow linebackers and really all my teammates.  And Coach Cabral has been such a tremendous influence in my life, my father figure away from home the last four years.”


Dizon was named to The Sporting News All-America team on Friday, the second organization to honor him.  Already a Walter Camp selection, he needs to make just one of the remaining three recognized teams to earn consensus honors.  He was also the league coaches’ choice as the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player-of-the Year and was named first-team All-Big 12 by both the Associated Press and the coaches.


                Dizon, CU’s defensive captain, had 160 tackles in the regular season, which ranked him second in the nation, though was first in solo stops (120).  He is also the nation’s second active leading tackler, finishing fourth all-time at Colorado with 440 career stops. 


                His season wasn’t just about tackles, which if they’re considered the meat, he had plenty of side trimmings.  He set a school record with 19 third down stops, eclipsing the mark set by Chad Brown in 1992 and matched by Brian Iwuh in 2005.   He tied for the team lead with 11 tackles for loss, which included four sacks, and also had 14 tackles for zero, meaning 25 of his stops went for zero or minus yardage.  Add to that two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown in a 31-26 win at Texas Tech (the Red Raiders’ lone home loss this season); eight quarterback hurries; three passes broken up (for a total of five passes defended by NCAA count); two near-sacks; one forced fumble, one caused interception and one touchdown save.  He also played on four special teams units over the course of the season.


                He had the best statistics by far of the three finalists, but Ohio State is playing for a national championship and Penn State finished 8-4 compared to CU’s 6-6 mark, which likely played some kind of factor in the final balloting.  But Dizon was happy to be here and was content to receive the plaque for making it this far in the process.


                “These guys are great,” Dizon said of his co-finalists.  “I have plenty of memories from this experience and it was an honor to be one of three linebackers to get to this point.  That’s a tremendous honor in itself.”


                Twenty-three Butkus awards have now been presented, and Ohio State joined Oklahoma (four), and Colorado, Florida State, Illinois and Penn State (all two) as schools with multiple winners of the honor.


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