Two Hokies Named To "Watch Lists"
Whitaker, Taylor on respective award lists
August 23, 2001

BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech defensive back Ronyell Whitaker and linebacker Ben Taylor have been named to "watch lists" for their respective position's top awards. Whitaker has been named to the 2001 Preseason Jim Thorpe Award "Watch List" as released Thursday afternoon by the Oklahoma City-based Jim Thorpe Association. The redshirt junior is one of 38 defensive backs listed on the watch list for the award, which goes to the nation's best defensive back in college football.

Taylor, a senior, is one of 69 candidates for this year's Butkus Award, as announced by The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Inc. (DACO), the organization which annually presents the prestigious award to the nation's best collegiate linebacker.

The "watch list" for the Thorpe Award is derived from a compilation of players named on All-America teams and honorable mention charts published by various preseason football magazines. It is not a final list as other candidates may emerge as the season progresses.

The progress of potential winners is tracked throughout the season. A screening committee will narrow the field to 10 semifinalists, who will be announced the first week in November. Three finalists will be announced the Monday before Thanksgiving. The winner will be invited to ESPN's College Football Awards Show at Disney World in Orlando where he will be announced Dec. 6.

Last season, Whitaker was a second-team All-BIG EAST pick after intercepting five passes and recording 61 tackles.

The Butkus Award Watch List will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on Thursday, Oct. 18 and will be announced by Dick Butkus at a Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando luncheon. That list will be cut down to three finalists who will be announced via a national teleconference with players, coaches, media members and Butkus Award officials on Thursday, Nov. 8. The winner will be announced Friday, Dec. 7, 2001 at the Butkus Award Gala at Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios CityWalk. The Butkus Award will be presented to the winner by the award's namesake, former University of Illinois and Chicago Bear NFL Hall of Fame member, Dick Butkus.

Taylor was a third-team All-America and first-team All-BIG EAST pick a year ago after leading the Hokies in tackles with 103. He also had five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions.