The last time a defensive player won the Heisman was the do-it-all Charles Woodson in 1997.
That is 10 years in which a defensive player has not even sniffed the Heisman, and with the explosion of offenses in college football it does not seem likely that the trend will reverse.
So say you are a linebacker playing college football. Aside from helping your team win a title, what personal goals can you possibly have? You will not win the Heisman.
But you can win the Butkus. Since 1985, the Butkus Award is given to the best linebacker in the land.
This year, there are three candidates that qualify for this award in my opinion, and they are:
1. Ray Maualuga, No. 58, USC
This 6'3" 250 pound Linebacker has terrorized the Pac-10 (although apparently so do Mountain West Conference teams these days) for much of his career at USC. This year though, the man has played lights out, leading the Trojans with 66 tackles. He has a knack for the big plays, and has two interceptions this year. He also is a Lombardi and Bednarik Award Finalist.
2. James Laurinaitis, No. 33, OSU
Also at 6'3" and 250 pounds, Laurinaitis is the defending Butkus and Nagurski Award winner, and it will be hard to unseat this Big Ten Linebacker. He is exceptionally smart when it comes to the game. He leads the team with 109 tackles this year, and has two interceptions, three sacks, and a forced fumble.
3. Jasper Brinkley, No. 52, S. Carolina
Jasper Brinkley leads a stingy against everyone except Florida defense, and as a 6'2" 275 pound monster, he is the cornerstone, as well as the emotional leader of this team. His team is a bit under the radar, but his accomplishments are not. He has 45 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and a forced fumble for the Gamecocks.
Out of this short list, the winner of the Butkus Award should be...
Aside from being the defending winner, I mean 109 tackles? He is a great player who deserves this award, and will probably win it.