The SEC has a star-driven core of returning linebackers this season and several were included 0n the 51-member Butkus Award watch list Monday. Presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker, the Butkus Award returned to the SEC last fall after Alabama All-American C.J. Mosley became the third Crimson Tide standout to receive the honor, joining Rolando McClain and Derrick Thomas.

Alabama’s Trey DePriest, Reggie Ragland and Auburn’s Kris Frost headline this season’s Western Division’s picks, while three of Georgia’s four returning starters at the the position powered the East’s selections. The Bulldogs’ triple-threat of Leonard Floyd, Ramik Wilson and Jordan Jenkins was also included on the Bednarik Award watch list earlier this month.

Tennessee senior A.J. Johnson, the SEC’s leading tackler over the last two seasons with 244 total stops, is the East’s only other pick. No player from the Eastern Division has ever won the award.

SEC players on the 2014 Butkus Award watch list
Alabama: Trey DePriest, Reggie Ragland
Arkansas: Braylon Mitchell
Auburn: Kris Frost
Georgia: Jordan Jenkins, Ramik Wilson, Leonard Floyd
Mississippi State: Benardrick McKinney
Tennessee: A.J. Johnson