Heisman Is Going on The Defensive

Chris ZanonContributor IOctober 22, 2009

The Heisman Trophy is meant to be presented to the most outstanding player in college football. Somewhere in its rules and regulations it also states that linemen and primary defensive players. This player must also attend a major university and must be ridiculously good looking. All joking aside many an unwritten rule has been broken in recent years.

In 1997, Charles Woodson won the trophy playing on both sides of the ball and special teams. He was primarily a cornerback. In the year 2000, a non traditional student (28 years old), Chris Weinke, won the trophy. In 2004 and 2005, USC posted back to back winners in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. And finally, in 2007 and 2008 sophomores won the award for the first (and second) time.

Could this year be the year for a defensive player to to have more than just an eye on the prize? Three of the most dominating players in college football are Eric Berry, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. These young men have dominated games just as thoroughly as their offensive sounterparts. In some cases they have even dominated their offensive Heisman competitors. Just look at Berry picking off Tebow or Suh slamming Colt McCoy to the turf four times in the Big 12 Championship Game.

He doesn't have the chance for the Heisman, though he should. He will have to prove himself over and over again because of size, because of position and because of Tennessee's middling record. Eric Berry, the 2010 Draft's number one prospect, forces teams to plan for him. He can change a game like no DB since Charles Woodson. He is a quarterback's worst nightmare, as evidenced by his 13 career interceptions. Not only does he have the soft hands to grab the ball, he has the speed and elusiveness to take it all the way for the touchdown. The man has 494 yards on interception returns (35.28 yds per) and three touchdowns. Throw those in with his 3 sacks and the fact that he hits like a load of bricks, and he radiates the talent to win.

Jim Rome calls him, "a once in a generation player." Colt McCoy still has nightmares about him. Ndamukong Suh is probably the most unblockable lineman in college. Suh is the most impactful player in college football. He is the most athletic defensive lineman since Jarron Gilbert who could jump out of a pool flat footed. Suh's athleticism is attributed to his background in soccer (he began playing at the age of three). This year he has 82 tackles, 12 sacks and a pick. He has 23 career sacks, 4 career picks and 2 defensive touchdowns. Oh yea and he plays part-time goal-line Full Back. He is among the final five and does have an outside chance at the Heisman. Chances are Suh will be the first name called in the 2010 Draft.

ESPN's Scout Inc. has Gerald McCoy rated as the second best draft eligable player in the country behind only Eric Berry (and ahead of Ndamukong Suh). Gerald McCoy has the best anticipation of any DT in college football. He fires off the snap as quickly as anyone and displays excellent hand usage (which is second to only Suh). McCoy has 11 career sacks (5 this year) and uses his amazing size and phenomenal strength to push around linemen like rag-dolls. He has the best size/strength of any defensive player in the country. He demands double teams every single snap. He is not only a great player on the field, but his off the field exploits are amazing as well(http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=3816468&categoryid=null) Even though he does not have the chance to win the Heisman he will be a great addition to the team that takes him at the top of the first round in the next draft.

Only one of these players has a chance to win the award this year. Is this year the year of the defender? Can the voters overcome the past discrimination against players on the defensive side of the ball? Without a singular dominating offensive player this could very well be the year.