Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr. Believes Defensive Stars Are 'Worthy' of Heisman Trophy

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 19, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: Alabama Crimson Tide LB Will Anderson Jr. (31) lines up on defense during the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship, on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. wants to win the Heisman Trophy this year to prove defensive players are just as valuable as offensive players.

"It's not really just for me but for other defensive players to know that we have a chance," Anderson told reporters Tuesday at SEC media days. "We are worthy enough to be a Heisman candidate or win a Heisman."

Michigan star Charles Woodson is the only primary defender to ever win the prestigious award, given to the most outstanding player in college football, but the defensive back also played receiver and returned punts.

Anderson wants defensive production to carry more weight.

"I kind of feel like they love offense over there," he said. "They love touchdowns, they love yards."

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson finished second in Heisman voting last year behind Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, while other notable players such as Chase Young, Manti Te'o and Ndamukong Suh have gotten legitimate consideration.

Anderson has a chance to break through after finishing fifth in the balloting last season.

The rising junior totaled 101 tackles and led the FBS with 17.5 sacks and 31 tackles for loss. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the top defensive player in the country.

NFL teams are already preparing for him at the next level, as ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. listed Anderson as the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 draft class.

If Anderson can put up more big numbers in 2022 while leading Alabama into title contention, the star could land atop Heisman ballots.