(Hawaii Athletics) - University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warrior Jahlani Tavai has been named to the 2018 preseason watch list for The Butkus Award,  honoring the nation's best linebacker. It is the first time the senior and two-time Mountain West pick has appeared on the list.
Tavai is one of 51 linebackers selected, mirroring the legendary "51" pro jersey associated with the Award's namesake Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history.
Tavai has been one of the nation's leading tacklers the last two seasons. As a junior, he led the Warriors with 124 tackles and ranked 10th nationally in total tackles and tackles per game (10.3). The native of Inglewood, Calif.,  also led the team and ranked in the top 10 in the Mountain West in sacks (5.5) and tackles-for-loss (11.0). One of the conference's most feared defenders, he has topped 100 total tackles in each of his last two seasons.
Semifinalists for The Butkus Award will be named October 29, finalists November 19, and winners will be notified on or before December 4. The Butkus Award, thebutkusaward.com and on Facebook at 51.butkus, is presented by the nonprofit Butkus Foundation.