Kentucky Wildcats senior inside linebacker DeAndre Square has been named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker since 1985.
Square, in his fifth season with the Wildcats, leads the team in tackles with 55, which is 18 more than Jordan Wright, who has the second-most.
Square also has a sack and an interception on the season, along with three passes defended.
Square has been a fixture in the middle of the Kentucky defense over the last few seasons, having played in 57 career games with 43 straight starting assignments and is a three-time team captain.
His career totals include 299 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries, seven pass breakups, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and one fumble recovery.
The season numbers don’t necessarily show how critical Square’s presence in the middle of the Kentucky defense is. His leadership and intangibles make a key difference, and play a crucial role in the success of Kentucky’s defense in recent years.
The award is associated with the legendary Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. The Butkus Award is focused on recognizing linebackers who consistently play off the ball on their feet in a two-point stance in traditional form.
The 2022 Butkus Award winners will be honored at a televised event on Jan. 21, 2023, at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The event will again feature namesake Dick Butkus and numerous noted NFL Alumni.
Other players have stronger numbers and will be more likely to win the award, but it’s certainly an achievement to be named a semifinalist for the award and is a testament to the kind of player Square has been for the Wildcats.