Cincinnati Football: Bearcats linebacker Ivan Pace Jr named finalist for Butkus Award

Ivan Pace Jr of the Cincinnati Bearcats in action against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Getty Images.
Ivan Pace Jr of the Cincinnati Bearcats in action against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Getty Images. /
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During his first season with the Bearcats, Ivan Pace Jr has made an immediate impact and was recently named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s best linebacker.

Prior to the regular season finale, Pace ranks second in the country with 19 tackles for loss and has the ninth-most sacks (9) and total tackles (107) to lead Luke Fickell’s dominant defense.

The Bearcats senior linebacker joined Jack Campbell (Iowa), Jamon Dumas-Johnson (Georgia), Davian Henley (Washington State) and Drew Sanders (Arkansas) as Butkus Award finalists.

Pace is the only player in the nation that ranks in the top-10 in sacks, tackles and tackles for loss after finishing with the 10th-most tackles (125) during his time at Miami (Ohio) last year.

Cincinnati Football: Bearcats linebacker Ivan Pace Jr named finalist for Butkus Award

In a win over Indiana in September, Pace showed off his elite ability with 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks en route to earning AAC Defensive Player of the Week and Bednarik National Player of the Week.

In addition to receiving national recognition for his next level physicality and speed, the Cincinnati native has been a driving force behind the defense allowing just 19.7 points per game this season.

With a chance to clinch a spot in the AAC championship game, the Bearcats will host 19th ranked Tulane on Friday at Nippert Stadium and Pace will play a major role in the must-win matchup.

Pace is the second straight Cincinnati linebacker to be named a finalist for the Butkus Award after Darrian Beavers was nominated last season before being drafted by the New York Giants.

Next. Cincinnati Football: AAC championship game scenarios following wild Week 12. dark