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USC Football: Senior Linebackers Smith and Gustin make the Butkus Award Watchlist

Two Trojan stalwarts once again have eyes on them for what could be a very special 2018 for the duo

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re deep into “Watchlist SZN” (trust me, it’s going to be a thing) and USC is yet again generating players to keep an eye put for. Senior linebackers Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin were named to the 2018 Butkus Award watchlist one week after being named on the Chuck Bednarik Award watchlist.

The Butkus Award is given to the nation’s top linebacker and is usually an indicator of a player’s success trajectory with recent first-round draft picks Roquan Smith (Georgia) and Reuben Foster(Alabama) being the last two recipients of the award.

Cameron Smith on the watchlist makes too much sense as the USC team captain led the team in tackles last season with 112(in all 14 games, mind you) and made the All-Pac-12 team for his efforts. Forgoing the NFL Draft to stay for his senior season, Smith’s experience will be vital in the success of a very young Trojan front-seven.

Porter Gustin’s 2017 campaign was plagued with injury as he only played in four games. However, he’s the best pass-rushing option this USC team will have and will certainly have the opportunity to be one of the nation’s top defensive players as he’ll be featured in the “Predator” role as an exclusive pass-rushing outside linebacker.

If he stays healthy—I don't want to say “just give Gustin the award already,” but I’ll just leave this here...