DENTON (8/24/06) North Texas linebacker Phillip Graves has been named to the Butkus Award watch list for the 2006 season. The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando annually presents this award to the nation’s top linebacker at the conclusion of each season.
Sixty-five players are nominated for the award, and Graves is one of three Sun Belt members named to the list.
Graves, a second-year starter for the Mean Green, is coming off his best season. He earned second-team All-Sun Belt honors in 2005 with a career-best 93 tackles, including seven tackles for loss and two sacks.
He was named conference Player of the Week for his work against Florida International when he recorded two sacks, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and an interception.
Graves is the first player for North Texas to be nominated for the award since Cody Spencer in 2003. No Sun Belt player has ever won the award.
Previous winners include Paul Posluszny, Derrick Johnson, and LaVar Arrington. The watch list will be narrowed to 10 players on October 19 and to three finalists on November 9. The award will be presented December 9 in Orlando.