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Luers LB wins Butkus Award

When Bishop Luers principal Mary Keefer asked Jaylon Smith to come to the school's athletic office Monday morning, he thought it was another attempt to talk him into playing basketball.

As it turned out, the senior was there to be personally told by the award's namesake on a conference call that Smith was the 2012 winner of the Dick Butkus Award as the nation's top high school linebacker.

"We are proud to report that you are the 2012 Butkus high school award winner," Butkus said over the loudspeaker on athletic director Jim Huth's desk. "You are a good example for what we are trying to set."

The Notre Dame recruit had 75 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks for the four-time defending Class 2A state champions. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Smith also excelled at running back with 1,200 yards rushing.

"It's an honor just to be able to represent Bishop Luers with something like this," Smith said. "I have heard so many things about Dick Butkus and how he set the tempo as a linebacker, and I am proud to be part of the family."

Smith is the first player from Indiana to receive the high school version of the award, which has been handed out since 2008. Current Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o was the first player to receive the prep award.

Other finalists for the honor were: Reuben Foster from Auburn, Alabama; Trey Johnson, from Lawrenceville, Georgia; Peter Kalambayi from Matthews, N. Carolina and Isaac Savaiinaea, from Honolulu, Hawaii.

High School Sports Editor Greg Jones on prep sports.