5 Defensive Players Who Could Crash 2013 Heisman Trophy Ceremony
Manti Te'o crashed the Heisman party this season, making his way to the award ceremony as a finalist, a feat that doesn't happen often for defensive players.
But it took a perfect season from his team, punctuated by great plays, for him to earn a trip to New York.
The five players on this list have the potential to do the same.
While it's unlikely any of them will actually win the award, with a few breaks and a team that competes in the national spotlight for the majority of the season, a visit to New York for the Heisman ceremony is a very real possibility.
Of course, it would take a season similar to Te'o's 2012, where a consistently high level of play is highlighted by a "Heisman moment" or two, but each player on this list has the potential to earn a spot at the table usually reserved for offense.
5. Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
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Truthfully, Breslin's chances of actually making the Heisman Trophy ceremony as a finalist are extremely slim.
But the man can flat-out play, and deserves some notice for the impact he has on the field for Lane Kiffin's team.
Breslin posted 13 sacks this season in a conference that features very run-heavy offenses.
He has the talent to disrupt anybody's passing game, and features a very fast edge-rush that can overwhelm opponents and wreak havoc on game plans.
Breslin is a stud, and has the potential to post some jaw-dropping stats in 2013 with another offseason under his belt.
While the Trojans are going to struggle to stay near the top of the Pac-12, which severely dampens his chances of reaching a Heisman ceremony, Breslin has the talent to earn All-American honors, among other awards.
4. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
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Borland is a force for the Badgers at linebacker.
And the guy knows how to fill up a stat sheet.
He finished 2012 with over 100 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
He also forced three fumbles, defended six passes and helped lead a defense that finished 15th in the nation in total yards allowed.
Borland plays with a ferocity that makes him an elite defender, flying to the play and making his present felt by the ball carrier.
The Badgers' defense will be very good in 2013, returning tons of talent to the front seven, and they will finish in the top 10 of all FBS teams in yards allowed.
If the Badgers find a way past Ohio State and make it to the Rose Bowl again, it will be much in part to the play of Borland.
3. Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
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With Jarvis Jones, Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree all departing, the Georgia defense is losing a ton of talent, but the cupboard is not entirely bereft of talent.
Take Jenkins, for instance.
He was overshadowed by the trio mentioned above, but started for the Bulldogs for most of the second half of the season.
He finished the season with eight tackles for loss, five sacks and 22 quarterback hurries.
Jenkins will take over much of the production left by Jones in 2013, and will be a key contributor. His speed to the edges and in lateral movement make him a stud in either the rushing or passing game.
Aaron Murray is returning at quarterback for the Bulldogs and will be the star of the offense, but Jenkins has the talent and potential to crash the Heisman party with a huge season and an SEC title.
2. Shaybe Skov, LB, Stanford
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One year after a season-ending knee injury suffered in 2011, Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov led the team in tackles. He finished the season with 80 stops, eight tackles for a loss and two-and-a-half sacks.
Skov flows to the ball well, and though he sometimes struggles in coverage, makes up for those struggles with big plays.
He will certainly have the opportunity to make a statement against a strong schedule, as the Cardinal will face San Jose State, Oregon State, Oregon and Notre Dame, all teams that will likely be ranked going into the 2013 season.
If he improves on his tackle totals and forces a few turnovers, Skov will be in the running late in the year on a team that has national title potential.
1. Jadveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina
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As if you need to see more than the monster hit Clowney planted on Michigan running back Vincent Davis.
Clowney has already stated he has Heisman aspirations in 2013, then backed up his claim with a monster game in the Gamecocks' bowl win over Michigan.
His ability to disrupt a game plan is second to none, and he will be the best defender in the nation in 2013.
After finishing 2012 with a ridiculous 23.5 tackles for loss, he has the potential to duplicate or better that number next season, even playing in the extremely dominant SEC.
His freakish ability to explode into the backfield is so good, it's scary.
South Carolina will have to have a great season for him to have any shot at sniffing the Heisman, but as long as he keeps producing at a ridiculous level, why not him?