The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced Tuesday afternoon in a press release that Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun has been named the National Defensive Player of the Week.
That makes the Big Ten Conference two-for-two in winning this award so far in the young 2013 season, as Collin Ellis from Northwestern won the same award last week. Calhoun also swept similar awards given by the Big Ten conference, as well as the Walter Camp Foundation over the weekend.
Just like Ellis, Calhoun wins the award in a week where he returned two turnovers for touchdowns in a single game. He started with a four-yard fumble return for touchdown and followed it up with a dynamic 56-yard interception return for touchdown during the Spartans' 21-6 win over South Florida
Also like Ellis, Calhoun wins this award right after winning a starting job, as he only played in a reserve role during the 2012 season. This is what makes Michigan State great, the ability to reload defensive talent and not miss a beat.
Calhoun is quickly making Spartan fans forget about losing Willliam Gholston, who now plays on Sundays.
Calhoun also had a fumble recovery for touchdown in the opening-week win over Western Michigan. His 3 touchdowns make him the leading scorer thus far on a Michigan State team struggling to find an offensive identity, and he also leads the nation for defensive touchdowns by himself.
In addition, no Michigan State player has scored 3 touchdowns on defense since 1999, when linebacker T.J. Turner had three pick-sixes in a year.
Here is a clip of the fumble return that started the scoring against USF to put Michigan State up 7-0.
Here is a clip of the interception return that effectively locked the game up by extending the lead to 14-6 in the late third quarter.
In addition to the two touchdown returns, Calhoun added 3 tackles. Two of these tackles were for a loss, including 1 sack on the day. The effort and weekly award puts the linebacker on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded in December to the best defensive player in the country for 2013. (Manti Te'o won the 2012 award.)
Thus far, it looks like the Big Ten Conference will have a lot to say about who wins this national award at the end of the year. But there's a long way to go and many other stars ready to compete with Ellis and Calhoun in future weeks.
Calhoun has been an absolute force on the edge of the line for Pat Narduzzi's defense. His pass rushing ability was a large factor in USF being held to a paltry 155 yards total on Saturday, of which only 89 were rushing yards.
Although it may seem difficult in a defensive unit stacked with stars like Darqueze Dennard, Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, Calhoun is making himself stand out from the crowd.
Even better: Calhoun likes to imagine he is Batman villain Bane when tormenting quarterbacks and running backs on the field of play.
That also explains his snazzy face mask, which would not be allowed in the No Fun League (e.g., NFL). Enjoy the fun while it lasts!
Michigan State faces Youngstown State before a showdown at South Bend, so Calhoun will have ample opportunities to add to his ridiculous statistics before Big Ten play begins. Then watch out Big Ten fans, this defense and "Bane" are coming for you.
While it is a long road from new starter to national award winner, or even All-American, the signs are great so far for this defensive end. He will at least be in the discussion for national awards alongside the likes of Jadeveon Clowney, and that is the highest praise one can reach for in college football.
Let's hope Calhoun and Ellis continue to impress moving forward, as both of their teams will need continued defensive success to surpass Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State for a conference championship.
Although not part of this award, we'd be remiss to leave out the great call from the first touchdown of the season, courtesy BTN.
Thanks for reading! Please provide your thoughts on whether Calhoun should be the next Batman villain to oppose Ben Affleck in the comments below.
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