East Carolina senior Derrell Johnson is one of 51 linebackers named to the 2013 Butkus Award Watch List, according to an announcement by the Butkus Foundation Monday.
Johnson, who has garnered preseason First-Team All-Conference USA honors by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele's College Football Preview Magazine along with being included on the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Watch List (top 40 linebackers at the FBS level), is the first Pirate to be named to the watch list since Chris Moore in 2004 and 2005.
Last year Johnson led all ECU defenders in sacks, tackles for lost yardage, fumble recoveries and quarterback pressures on his way to second-team all-league accolades. He stood among the league's top 10 with 7.0 sacks and netted 11.0 overall stops behind the line of scrimmage while starting all 13 contests. In addition, the Baltimore prep product was credited with a pair of fumble recoveries, keyed a pass rush with eight pressures and logged 62 total tackles - 27 solo.
During his three-year career, which began as an end in ECU's former 4-3 scheme during his freshman campaign in 2010, Johnson has tallied 141 stops. He will open the 2013 season with a streak of 36-straight starts and a run of 25 consecutive contests with at least one tackle.
Johnson, who was named ECU's Defensive MVP during the program's annual awards banquet in 2012, is the line representative of C-USA on the initial watch list.
The Butkus Award honors the now-retired professional jersey number of Dick Butkus, who is regarded by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history. The selection panel is comprised of 51 coaches, evaluators and journalists. Semi-finalists will be named October 28, finalists November 26, and winners will be notified on or before December 10.