Lehman is fourth Sooner to win Butkus

Updated: December 13, 2003, 2:06 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

ORLANDO -- Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Teddy Lehman won the 2003 Butkus Award on Friday night, the fourth Butkus Award winner from Oklahoma and the first since Rocky Calmus in 2001.

The Butkus is awarded annually to the nation's best linebacker. Lehman beat out finalists Derrick Johnson from the Texas Longhorns and Jonathan Vilma of the Miami Hurricanes for the honor.

"This is just a tremendous honor, considering who I shared this stage with," Lehman said at Orlando's Downtown Athletic Club. "I really couldn't ask for a better way to finish my career, with the exception of one thing -- and that's beating LSU in the Sugar Bowl and winning a national championship."

Lehman led the Sooners' top-ranked defense to an 12-1 season and the BCS title game at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4. The senior led the team with 109 tackles -- 57 of which were solo -- including 17 for losses. He also tallied one sack, one interception and one forced fumble.

The Ft. Gibson, Okla. native joins Calmus and Brian Bosworth (1985, '86) as Oklahoma's Butkus winners. Bosworth was the award's first recipient and the only multiple winner.

Lehman, a finalist for the Butkus in 2002, also won the 2003 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award, and on Thursday won the 2003 Chuck Bednarik Award. Last year he lost out to Maryland's E.J. Henderson.

"I was a defensive coordinator for a lot longer than I've been a head coach, and this is one of the greatest honors of the year," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "The last three years, Teddy has just been a tremendous player for us, and he deserves everything that has come his way."

The Butkus winner was selected by a 28-member committee comprised of members of the media.

Lehman, a senior, gives the Big 12 Conference the all-time lead in past Butkus Award winners with seven over the Big Ten's six.

Johnson was the first Longhorn to be among the three finalists in the 18-year history award. He was the only underclassman among the trio.

Vilma was trying to become the second Miami player in four years to win the award. Dan Morgan was honored in 2000.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.