Colorado State University now has another reason to be excited for this upcoming football season. Earlier this year, Rams wide receiver Rashard Higgins was placed on the preseason Maxwell Award watch list and punter Hayden Hunt was placed on the Ray Guy award watch list. Also tight ends Steven Walker and Kivon Cartwright were selected to the John Mackey Award watch list. Now, senior Cory James has also been added to a preseason award watch list.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Colorado State

The linebacker has been named one of 51 candidates for the Butkus Award. James had a phenomenal 2014 campaign. He had 51 tackles, including a team-high 8.5 for a loss and 6.5 for sacks. James played in every one of CSU’s games for the last three years – 39 contests. He has started in 34 of those games.

For his collegiate career, he has 165 tackles to go along with 22 sacks. That is the fifth most in the history of CSU’s football program. During his freshman year, James was awarded the FWAA Freshman All-American honors.

James and Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell are two of six watch-list selections from Group-of-Five schools.

The 51 players on the watch list represent the retired number of NFL legend Dick Butkus. Additionally, a selection panel of 51 deeply experienced coaches, evaluators and journalists will narrow the field by private ballot. Semifinalists will be named on Nov. 2, finalists will be released on Nov. 23 and the winner will be announced in early 2016.

Marcus Flowers, a Mile High Sports intern and Claflin University student, contributed to this report