STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State senior linebacker Deontae Skinner became the eighth Bulldog named to a National College Football Awards Association watch list Monday, joining sophomore linebacker Benardrick McKinney on the Butkus Award Watch List. In addition, the NCFAA announced Monday All-American left guard Gabe Jackson was selected to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List.
The Butkus Award, which honors the best linebacker in the country, named Skinner to the list after the 250-pounder racked up 62 total tackles as a junior in 2012. The Macon, Miss., native also tallied 5.0 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Joining Skinner on the watch list is McKinney, who earned freshman All-America honors in 2012 after tying for second in the FBS in tackles by a freshman. Named a 2013 preseason All-SEC linebacker by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports, McKinney finished sixth in the SEC last year in tackles per game. This past month, the 6-5, 235-pounder was named the No. 8 “Craziest Athlete in College Football” by CBSSports.com. Last week, the Tunica, Miss., native was picked to the watch list for the 19th annual Bednarik Award, given annually to the College Defensive Player of the Year.
Mississippi State was one of only two SEC schools to have multiple players on the Butkus Award watch list. Semi-finalists for the award will be named Oct. 28, finalists Nov. 26 and winners will be notified on or before Dec. 10.
Jackson was named to the watch list for the Rotary Lombardi Award, which is awarded yearly to the best lineman or linebacker in college football. The Liberty, Miss., native made the list for the second-consecutive year after earning All-America honors as a junior in 2012 by Phil Steele, Scout.com, Pro Football Weekly and Sports Illustrated. Jackson, a 2013 preseason All-American by most publications, is widely considered the number one offensive guard prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. Last Thursday, Jackson was also listed on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.