OU football: Four storylines for Oklahoma's defense, special teams this spring

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray celebrates a play during the Sooners' game against Alabama on Dec. 29, 2018, at the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Kenneth Murray's preseason hype continues to build.

The junior linebacker was named to The Butkus Award college watch list on Monday.

The honor is presented annually to the country's top linebacker and was first introduced in 1985.

Former OU linebacker Brian Bosworth was the first player to win the award and earned the honor again in 1986. Ex-Sooners Rocky Calmus (2001) and Teddy Lehman (2003) have also earned the honor.

It shouldn't be a surprise Murray cracked the list as a preseason Bednarik Award candidate, which is annually given to the best defensive player in college football.

Murray erupted for 155 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks as a sophomore last season. He enters his 2019 campaign as the media's preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year choice and will be under first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.

From the Big 12, Texas Tech's Jordyn Brooks and Oklahoma State's Calvin Bundage also made the list.

2019 Butkus Award watch list

  • Joe Bachie, Michigan State
  • Markus Bailey, Purdue
  • Mohamed Barry, Nebraska
  • Zack Baun, Wisconsin
  • Tuf Borland, Ohio State
  • Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
  • Cameron Brown, Penn State
  • T.J. Brunson, South Carolina
  • Calvin Bundage, Oklahoma State
  • K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU
  • Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
  • Michael Divinity Jr., LSU
  • Troy Dye, Oregon
  • Tony Fields II, Arizona
  • Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
  • Cale Garrett, Missouri
  • Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State
  • De'Jon Harris, Arkansas
  • Malik Harrison, Ohio State
  • Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
  • Dontavious Jackson, Florida State
  • Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
  • Clay Johnston, Baylor
  • Nate Landman, Colorado
  • Sage Lewis, FIU
  • Terrell Lewis, Alabama
  • Kamal Martin, Minnesota
  • Dylan Moses, Alabama
  • Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
  • Dante Olson, Montana
  • Micah Parsons, Penn State
  • Jacob Phillips, LSU
  • Michael Pickney, Miami (Fla.)
  • Shaquille Quarterman, Miami (Fla.)
  • Patrick Queen, LSU
  • Chapelle Russell, Temple
  • Mohamed Sanogo, Mississippi
  • Colin Schooler, Arizona
  • Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
  • Charles Snowden, Virginia
  • Justin Strnad, Wake Forest
  • Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
  • Davion Taylor, Colorado
  • Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State
  • Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
  • Joshua Uche, Michigan
  • Mykal Walker, Fresno State
  • Evan Weaver, California
  • Javin White, UNLV
  • Logan Wilson, Wyoming
  • David Woodward, Utah State

Joe Buettner is a sports reporter for the Norman Transcript. You can contact him at (405) 366-3557 or jbuettner@normantranscript.com.