We’ve made Duke linebacker Michael Tauiliili’s case for All-American, argued he should have been higher on the All-ACC team and finally ceded the argument when Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
And then another ACC linebacker won a national award, so we felt obliged to pipe up again. On Tuesday, Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry won the Butkus Award for the nation’s best linebacker, beating out 11 others–including Herzlich and Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim, but not Tauiliili.
As ESPN’s Heather Dinich astutely pointed out, the Butkus Award is unlike any conference honor, voted on by coaches and members of the media. The Butkus’ voting panel is composed of “NFL general managers, head coaches, defensive coordinators, personnel directors, head scouts, college head coaches, recruiting coordinators, three senior football journalists and four highly-regarded independent talent evaluators,” she writes. In other words, this award is just as much about a linebacker’s ability to project to the next level as it is his season accomplishments.
Which makes sense, because Curry not only wasn’t the best linebacker in the ACC this year, but probably was behind Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith for the best defensive player on his team. He posted 101 tackles, three fumble recoveries and an interception. (Just one last time, Tauiliili secured 140 tackles, three fumble recoveries and four interceptions. That said, Curry did put together a monstrous performance in Wake’s 33-30 win over Duke Nov. 1, when he led the Demon Deacons with 16 tackles.
This might be the last Tauiliili defense for a while, folks. We won’t be making his case for the Heisman anytime soon.