Nakobe Dean, a Chosen 25 football selection and senior at Horn Lake (Miss.) High School, has received the Butkus Award, honoring the nation’s top high school linebacker.
The surprise presentation was made at the school involving the award’s namesake, Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, along with his son Matt, in front of players, coaches, faculty and family.
Dean, a 6-1, 221-lb. outside linebacker and wide receiver, led Horn Lake (15-0) to the school’s first-ever Class 6A Mississippi state championship last weekend. On the year, Dean recorded 138 total tackles, including 72 solo and 22 for loss. He also had a safety, a defensive score, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
“Nakobe Dean was the heartbeat of a state championship team where he has been as much a leader in the classroom and community as he has been on the field,” the Butkus Award committee wrote in a release. “With the on-field tenacity of Dick Butkus, Dean’s playing style strikes a remarkable resemblance to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro linebacker Derrick Brooks, possessing a similar body build, speed, athletic ability and the superb instincts that define the Butkus Award.”
Other finalists included: Chosen 25 selection Owen Pappoe of Grayson (Loganville, Ga.); Brandon Smith, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.); Chosen 25 selection Brandon Smith of Louisa County (Mineral, Va.); and De’Gabriel Floyd of Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.).
Last year’s high school Butkus Award winner was Solomon Tuliapupu of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), who now plays for USC. Tuliapupu was also the 2018 ALL-USA Boys Athlete of the Year.
The Butkus Award selection committee is comprised of 51 football coaches, recruiters, talent scouts and journalists who study football talent yearlong. Per the release, selectors are asked to recognize qualities that defined Butkus’ career, including toughness, on-field leadership, competitiveness, football character, and linebacking skills. For more on selectors and criteria, visit thebutkusaward.com.
The Butkus Award® is presented by the Butkus Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 organization which advances health and wellness through special initiatives.