Baylor LB Johnston named to Butkus Award watch list

WACO, Texas (KWTX) The Baylor defense is hoping to avoid the big plays, which could help them improve on the seven wins they tallied a season ago.

Third-year head coach Matt Rhule mentioned at Big 12 Media Days last week that a lot of those mistakes were mental.

That's where the senior leadership could come into play this season, starting with linebacker Clay Johnston, who was named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, which is given annually to the best linebacker in college football.

The Abilene native had a tremendous junior season that resulted in him being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, due in large part to averaging more than 13 tackles per game in the month of November.

"A lot of times as a defensive player, you're so focused on making the tackle, just to get down and to live and fight another day, and you're not trying to get the ball out," Johnston said. "You have to get past that. When you're an older team, you have to be like, 'Okay, I'm not only going to tackle you, I'm going to claw at the ball.' That's something that we have to take a step in."

Johnston was referencing the 10 turnovers that his team forced in 2018. Only Oregon State tallied less takeaways (8).