Cal linebacker Evan Weaver increases preseason stock with Butkus, Nagurski watchlist nominations

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The nation’s leading returning tackler continues to make preseason waves. Cal inside linebacker Evan Weaver, already a nominee for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award, was named to the Butkus Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watchlists on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The Butkus Award is given annually to the top high school and college linebackers across the country and is named after former University of Illinois and Chicago Bears star Dick Butkus. Weaver is one of 51 collegiate linebackers on the preseason list.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented to the NCAA’s best defensive student-athlete and is named in honor of former University of Minnesota and Chicago Bears two-way star Bronko Nagurski. The award is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and its preseason watchlist features 92 players.

With Gerran Brown’s medical retirement last August, Weaver stepped into a starting role at inside linebacker and earned All-American and All-Pac-12 honors as a junior. His 159 tackles led all of college football in 2018 and are tied for second on Cal’s single-season records. Since joining the program in 2016, Weaver has seen action in 36 contests, starting in 18 of them.

Semifinalists for the Butkus Award will be revealed Nov. 4, while the winner will be announced before or on Dec. 10. The Nagurski Trophy winner will also be recognized at a December ceremony.

Josh Yuen covers football. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @joshcal2020.