College Football Predictions 2011: Defensive Players Capable of the Heisman

James EvensCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2011

College Football Predictions 2011: Defensive Players Capable of the Heisman

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    It's never too early to start making predictions for the upcoming college football season, and everyone always talks about returning players who have a shot at winning the Heisman in the upcoming year.

    Last season it was Cam Newton, but does anyone on the defensive side of the ball want to live up with the legend Charles Woodson and win it for all the defenders across the nation?

    Here are some defensive players that are capable of winning the Heisman Trophy in 2011.

    James Evens serves as a National Featured Columnist for college football and basketball as well as the FC for the Purdue Boilermakers.   Follow him on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

Jayron Hosley

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    Hosley is a cornerback for the Virginia Tech Hockies, and is a dynamic player that can make huge plays when it counts.  

    In 2010 Hosley led the nation in interceptions with eight.

    Along with his defensive role as the lock-down corner for the Hockies, Hosley is a punt returner who amassed 239 yards and a touchdown on punts.

    If Hosley can get it going this season, he could easily pick apart opposing offenses and become a candidate for the trophy. 

Bruce Irvin

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    Bruce Irvin is one of the most overlooked defensive ends in the nation. Irvin had 14 sacks last season and it went virtually unrecognized across the country, due to the immense attention put on Bowers, Kerrigan and Fairley.

    These 14 sacks came with Irvin being injured and sitting out two games.  

    If Irvin can find a way to get 20 sacks on the season, he will be looked at for Heisman consideration, but that is a stretch. 

Brandon Jenkins

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    Brandon Jenkins is yet another defensive end that has went under the radar so far in his career. Jenkins plays for Florida State and is a key aspect for the Seminoles. 

    Jenkins had 14 sacks and 55 tackles last season. He is one of the best in the country, and if everything falls into place for him, he could be in contention for the Heisman. 

Robert Lester

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    Lester is a cornerback for Nick Saban's defense at Alabama, and has put up some great numbers over his career in Tuscaloosa.  

    Last season, Lester recorded 8 interceptions and was really an overall great defender, especially in the offensively charged SEC.  

    Lester will be a long shot just like everyone else on this list, but if he breaks out, and puts in the work over the summer, anything could happen.

Tank Carder

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    If there is a long-shot to win this award, or a fan favorite, it would have to be Tank. Tank Carder made big noise when he showed his passion for the game in the Rose Bowl this past year.

    Although he might not have astronomical stats, he is a difference maker.

    The odds of him winning the Heisman are slim to none, but the thought of it is great.

Morris Claiborne

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    Claiborne is a junior corner for the LSU tigers. Claiborne had 5 interceptions in 2010 and was a great addition to the amazing LSU secondary. His role this year will be far greater with the departure of Patrick Peterson.

    Claiborne is young and has all the makings of being a star in the NFL.

    If he can make a few more plays he might just have what it takes to win the Heisman.

Harrison Smith

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    Harrison Smith is a great safety for Notre Dame and could have a break-out season this year. Look for him to make some noise nationally during a rebound year for the Irish.

    If a safety was going to win this award this year, look for Smith.

Cliff Harris

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    Cliff Harris is yet another stellar corner on this list. He had a great season with the Oregon Ducks and is looking to start 2011 right where he left off in 2010.

    Harris had 7 interceptions last season and was the leader of a defense that made it to the National Championship game. 

    With the Pac-10 in the shape it is, look for Harris to have a great season.