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Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) eyes his opponents. The Georgia Bulldogs trail the Alabama Crimson Tide 24-17 after the first half at the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)

Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean has been named the 2021 Butkus Award winner. The award goes to the nation’s top linebacker.

The Butkus Award was presented to Dean in a surprise team meeting on Sunday by Dick Butkus and his son. Dean is the 37th collegiate winner of the award.

“Nakobe Dean is a playmaker with a special combination of strength, coverage ability, playmaking flair and leadership skill,” the selection committee said in a release. “He consistently makes his presence felt on the field and in the community, elevates the defense with his command and is a complete linebacker who has made a tremendous impact on Georgia’s program.”

Dean is only the third winner in the history of the Butkus award to win both the high school and college edition. The other two were Jaylon Smith and Manti Te'o, both linebackers from Notre Dame.

The linebacker comes off of an impressive season for the No. 3 Bulldogs who have just secured a spot in the College Football Playoff. Dean currently boasts 61 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. His presence has been a key to the Georgia defense throughout the season.

Dean slots in as the second winner in Georgia history behind Roquan Smith, who won the award in 2017.

Jake Jennings is a senior journalism major from Powder Springs, Georgia. He is minoring in sports management and political science as well. He reports on soccer, football and baseball.

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