Monday, July 15, 2013

Smallwood named to Butkus, Lombardi watch lists

A year ago at this time Yawin Smallwood was one of the best-kept secrets in college football as his more experienced teammates were the ones receiving all the national recognition.

Well, those days are over.

Following up a rock solid freshman season when he was UConn's second-leading tackler, Smallwood recorded a team-high 120 tackles as one of the stars on the Huskies' nationally-ranked defense.

People are obviously taking notice as he was named to the Butkus and Lombardi Award watch lists on Monday after previously earning the same honor for the Bednarik and Nagurski Awards.

The Butkus Award, named in honor of Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, honors the nation's best lineman while linemen and linebackers are eligible for the Lombardi Award.

Since earning the starting middle linebacker spot at UConn as a redshirt freshman Smallwood has had at least five tackles in every game. He returned a fumble 64 yards in his second career game and before the end of his fifth game he had a fumble recovery, forced fumble, sack and interception. In his 24 career collegiate games Smallwood had recorded at least seven tackles 21 times including a career high 14 stops in back to back games against North Carolina State and Maryland during the 2012 season.

With the graduation of linebackers Sio Moore and Jory Johnson, defensive end and career sacks leader Trevardo Williams and cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Smallwood is the unquestioned face of the UConn defense.



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