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Mercyhurst Prep Grad, Penn State Linebacker Luketa Named to Butkus Award Watch List

Penn State's Jesse Luketa. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick's work here

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Former Mercyhurst Prep standout and current Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa was named to the Butkus Award Watch List announced on Monday.

Luketa, a senior for the Nittany Lions, is joined on the list by teammate Brandon Smith. There are 51 players on the watchlist for the award, which recognizes the nation’s top linebacker. The 51 players represent the number Butkus wore in the NFL.

Formed in 1985, the Butkus Award honors linebackers at three levels while supporting causes important to the Butkus family. Causes include the Butkus Takes Heart™ initiative encouraging early cardiovascular screening among adults, and the I Play Clean® initiative encouraging athletes to train naturally without performance-enhancing drugs.

Luketa, who came to Mercyhurst Prep by way of Ottawa, Ontario, starred for the Lakers and head coach Jeff Root. Luketa helped the Lakers to a 10-1 record and a District 10 Class 3A runner-up finish his senior season (2017). He was also named Pennsylvania Football News (PFN) Class 3A Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, accumulating 69 tackles and four interceptions.

Last season for Penn State, Luketa appeared in all nine games, making eight starts. The team captain amassed 59 tackles (2.5 for loss), a fumble recovery and three pass breakups.

The 2020 Butkus Award winners:

Collegiate: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame, now Cleveland Browns)

High School: Prince Kollie (David Crockett, Jonesborough, Tenn., now Notre Dame)

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