Boston College lineback Luke Kuechly was named the winner of the Butkus Award, presented annually to the best linebacker in college football, on Sunday.
Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus made a surprise visit to Boston to present Kuechly with the award at the Eagles end-of-year Banquet on Sunday.
"I used to watch so much football growing up and when they'd talk about great players they would always talk about Dick Butkus," Kuechly said. "Just being mentioned along with those guys (past winners) and winning an award named after a guy like Dick Butkus is great, I'm excited about it, it's really a great honor."
Before Butkus appeared from behind a closed door to present Kuechly with the trophy, BC head coach Frank Spaziani had praised the standout defender with some glowing remarks comparing Kuechly to the hall of famer.
"As a kid, I idolized Dick Butkus, he was the ideal linebacker," Spaziani told Kuechly and the crowd. "You're the closest thing to Dick Butkus that I've seen."
Butkus wasn't shy on praise for the junior linebacker either.
"I like his speed, he's an intelligent player and he's a good guy," Butkus said. "That's what I say on the trophy, you got to be in the tradition of giving back too -- everyone seems to be all for themselves these days -- and I think we made another great choice. "
Kuechly was also a finalist for the award last season, but was edged out by former Texas A&M and current Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller.
"A lot of people said I got snubbed last year because Von Miller won it, but I don't think I got jipped at all. Look at him (Miller) now, he's the number two draft pick and he's killing it right now in the NFL," Kuechly said.
Kuechly is racking up almost as many accolades as tackles this year. He was named the 2011 ACC Defensive Player of the Year just last week and is an expected unanimous selection to the All-America team for the second consecutive year.
The junior from Cincinnati, Ohio posted another career season for the Eagles, finishing the year as the nation's leading tackler with 191 to go along with three interceptions, including a 45-yard touchdown return in the season finale at Miami.
After only his third year with the Eagles, Kuechly already holds both the Boston College and ACC records for career tackles with 532.