Members of the Michigan football program are continuing to gather accolades ahead of the 2023 football season. On Thursday, linebackers Junior Colson and Michael Barrett continued that by being named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, awarded annually to college football’s top linebacker.
As a former four-star recruit from Tennessee, Colson has been a contributor since his freshman year in 2021. As a freshman, Colson started in seven games and racked up a total of 60 tackles. He was recognized with a share of Michigan’s Defensive Rookie of the Year honors for his efforts.
Colson enjoyed a breakout year as a sophomore last year, his first season as a full-time starter. Filling a void left by the departure of Josh Ross, Colson had 101 tackles as well as two sacks over 14 games. His performance earned him second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and third-team honors from the media, as well as Michigan’s Roger Zatkoff Award, which is given to the team’s top linebacker.
Colson returns for his junior season as one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten and as one of the more experienced players on defense. His leadership and experience should prove to be beneficial for a group that will be breaking in a handful of new starters and welcoming transfers. His athleticism and ability as a run-stopper also make him an intriguing draft prospect if he is able to turn in a solid performance this year.
Meanwhile, Barrett is back for a sixth and final year of college eligibility after a highly successful 2022 campaign where he totaled 72 tackles. five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. His leadership and unique skillset on the field make him among the top at his position heading into the 2023 season.
Erick Anderson, who won the Butkus Award in 1991, is Michigan’s only Butkus Award winner since the award’s inception in 1985. Last year’s award was won by former Iowa linebacker and now Detroit Lion Jack Campbell.