The finalist for the Butkus Award for announced on Monday, but Colorado Buffaloes star Nate Landman was not among the five finalists.
The finalists for the award, which is given to the best linebacker in the nation, are Missouri’s Nick Bolton, Tulsa’s Zaven Collins, Utah’s Devin Lloyd, Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Georgia’s Monty Rice.
Even among those elite linebackers, it is hard to find a more impactful player than Landman. In terms of team success, the Buffaloes exceeded all expectations in large part because their man in the middle fortified the run defense, harassed quarterbacks and had outstanding leadership. Only Zaven Collins matched in terms of statistical output and direct impact on winning and he’s probably going to win the award.
Tom DeMatteo pointed out on Twitter the discrepancies in the counting stats of these finalists:
4 of these LB made the list of finalists and 1 didn’t...you choose the 1 that didn’t:— Tom DeMatteo (@TomDeMatteo) December 14, 2020
* 6 gms, 52 tackles, 35 solo, 1 sack
* 10 gms, 48 tackles, 31 solo, 1.5 sacks
* 4 gms, 38 tackles, 24 solo, 1 sack
* 5 gms, 53 tackles, 39 solo, 4 sacks
* 9 gms, 49 tackles, 30 solo 1 sack
Landman is the one who played five games. He’s somehow leading all those players in tackles, solo tackles and sacks, as well as being tied for first in tackles for loss. (Tom left off Zaven Collins for some reason, but his stat line is 7 games, 52 tackles, 35 solo, 7.5 TFL and 4 sacks.)
Apparently the reason Landman was left off was because of his ankle injury, which he sustained in the Buffs’ loss to Utah. There’s no real reason to discredit Landman in that case, because (a) the regular season is over after this week, (b) he still has more games played than finalist Devin Lloyd, and (c) the CU defense showed just how valuable he is by being dreadful during his absence.
On the positive side, Landman is still the hands-on favorite to win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, could still be an All-American, and the Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski awards have not yet announced its finalists.