Cowboys Gibbs on Butkus Watch List as nation’s best linebacker


August 11, 2023 — Another preseason honor has been bestowed to Wyoming Cowboys junior linebacker Easton Gibbs. On Thursday, it was announced that Gills is on the season watch list for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s best linebacker. Fifty-one top linebackers in college football were named to this year’s watch. The number 51 is a nod to the number 51 pro jersey worn by the award’s namesake, Dick Butkus, who is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. 

Butkus Award semifinalists are expected to be named on October 30, with finalists announced on November 20. The winner will be named on or before December 6 and honored at a televised event in January.

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It has been an excellent preseason for Gibbs. He was selected as the 2023 Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in voting by MW media at Mountain West Media Days in July. In addition, he has also been named a 2023 Preseason First Team All-Mountain selection by MW media, Athlon Sports, and Phil Steele. As a sophomore last season, Gibbs was named First Team All-Mountain West in voting by Mountain West head coaches and media after the season. 

Gibbs becomes the third Wyoming linebacker named to the Butkus Award Watch List since 2019. Former Cowboy linebacker and Casper native Logan Wilson was named to the Butkus Award Watch List in 2019 and became one of six finalists for the award. Wilson now plays for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Cowboy linebacker Chad Muma was selected to the watch list in 2021 and named a top-six finalist in 2021. Muma currently plays for Jacksonville in the NFL.

Founded in 1985, the Butkus Award honors linebackers at three levels (high school, college, and NFL) while supporting causes important to the Butkus family. Causes include the Butkus Takes Heart™ initiative encouraging early cardiovascular screening among adults and the I Play Clean® initiative encouraging athletes to train naturally without performance-enhancing drugs.