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Around The Dog Park: One FCS Linebacker Named To Butkus Award Watch List

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 William & Mary at East Carolina Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Friday, y’all.

We’ve got just two weeks and change until the 2023 season officially begins. Conferences are still changing, teams are trying to figure out starters. It reminds me of being in school and just now remembering that there was a summer project we were supposed to do.

Most teams though seem to have a plan together. The excitement is building as we wait to see who the top dog in the group of five will really be.

Let’s hop into it.


  • We got the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award this week, which goes to the top linebacker in DI every year. Of the 51 nominees (clever), just one was from an FCS team. That honor belonged to William & Mary’s John Pius. Pius was selected as an All-American by seven different outlets and organizations last year. He was also a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award in 2022, which goes to the FCS’ best player.
  • CBS released their Top 25 for the season, with defending champion South Dakota State leading the way at #1. The Top Five was rounded out by Montana State, William & Mary, North Dakota State, and Sacramento State. Repeating as a national champion is one thing, but doing it with a new head coach after John Stiegelmeier retired? Stranger things have happened, but it won’t be easy for the Jackrabbits.

Conference USA

  • FIU released their Miami Vice uniforms on Thursday and built some impressive media traction. The win-loss record of this year’s Panther team is TBD, but they’ll look good doing it. Mike MacIntyre’s squad are set to break these out on October 11 when they play UTEP on ESPN2.
  • Bit of a shameless plug here: if you were a fan of the Underdog Pawdcast that we used to do for this site, you’ll be happy to know that myself and Eric Henry are now continuing our work on that front with Athlon Sports. This week, I chatted with Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News about New Mexico State’s first season in Conference USA. Listen here.

Sun Belt

  • Louisiana quarterback Ben Woolridge ran into some bad luck last season when he tore his ACL. Somehow, someway, he’s ready to get back out there and lead the Cajuns just nine months later. Cory Diaz did an interview with the redshirt junior for The Advertiser that’s worth the time of Cajun fans.
  • The Marshall football team are entering the season with fairly high expectations for themselves. One reason is the wide receiver room, which will have plenty of options for quarterback Cam Fancher to get the ball to. If they’re able to get to a point where they’re contending for the Sun Belt title, it will likely be because they score a lot of points. The Charleston Gazette posted an article about that topic this week.

American Athletic Conference

  • We mentioned the Butkus Award watch list earlier. The AAC also had just one name on the watch list. That honor went to Jordan Magee of Temple. Magee had 86 tackles with nine for a loss and 4.5 sacks in 2022.
  • There are plenty of rumors out there about the state of conference realignment right now. We won’t know where the pieces fall until they do. However, one that’s particularly interesting right now is the idea that Oregon State, Washington State, Cal, and Stanford could join the AAC. In a conference that’s already grown quite a bit, those additions would certainly make things interesting.