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SPORTS WEEKEND | COLLEGE FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT / USC

Claiborne Makes Butkus Cut

October 16, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD

USC's Chris Claiborne is one of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which is awarded to the nation's best college linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando.

That list will be narrowed to three finalists Nov. 12 and the winner will be announced Dec. 11.

Ohio State's Andy Katzenmoyer, who won the award last season as a sophomore, leads the list of other candidates.

The Butkus is one of the few major awards no USC player has won.

Though Junior Seau and Willie McGinest were top-five NFL draft picks, neither was even a semifinalist for the Butkus.

Claiborne, a junior, is the third Trojan player to be named a semifinalist, joining Marcus Cotton (1986 and '87) and Scott Ross (1990).

The other semifinalists this season: Penn State's LaVar Arrington, Nebraska's Jay Foreman, Florida's Jevon Kearse, Kansas State's Jeff Kelly, Texas A&M's Dat Nguyen, Florida's Johnny Rutledge, Penn State's Brandon Short and Tennessee's Al Wilson.

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Tailback Chad Morton was literally dancing on the field Thursday--"just having some fun," he said--and, for the first time in more than two weeks, didn't wear the yellow jersey signifying an injured player.

But even though Morton says he'll "definitely" play and thinks his bruised back will be "close" to 100%, Coach Paul Hackett is taking a very cautious approach and says the decision won't be made until Saturday. .

"I just don't want to be one week early, and then find all of a sudden down the homestretch our ace [can't play]," Hackett said.

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The 792-game attendance streak of Giles Pellerin, 91, was in danger this week. Pellerin, 91, was planning to skip the arduous trip to Pullman, Wash., but changed his mind when USC officials invited him to travel on the team plane, as he occasionally does. . . . Receiver Quincy Woods will miss the trip because of a sore knee. . . . Assistant coach Larry Petroff, who has been out because of kidney stones, is expected to go. "I told him, 'I don't want to see you until we get on the airplane,' " Hackett said. . . . Tests confirmed offensive tackle Matt Welch has mononucleosis, and he won't make the trip. Hackett said doctors told him there was no need to be concerned about it being contagious.

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