Most sportswriters would turn down a free meal before they would ever vote for a defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.
The Heisman Trophy has gone to college football’s most outstanding player since 1935. In that span, 77 different men have won the award, and yet only one of them, Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997, was a defensive player.
So it stands to reason that this year will be no different. No defensive player has any chance of actually winning the Heisman or even making it to New York City as a finalist. However, if the goal of the award is truly to honor college football’s best player, there is little doubt that some of the top defensive players in the country ought to get some consideration.
As a matter of fact, here are a few defensive players in the SEC that should probably get some Heisman votes:
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida cornerback
Hargreaves’ name makes him sound like a character on Downton Abbey, but don’t let that fool you. No college football player plays his position better than Hargreaves plays defensive back. His four interceptions prove he is a “shutdown” corner in the truest sense.
Myles Garrett, Texas A&M defensive end
Texas A&M and defense are used together in the same sentence about as often as Congress and sensible ideas are. However, Garrett is doing his best to try to change that. His 10.5 sacks have made him a force to be reckoned with for the Aggies. And while it might not get the attention of the Heisman trust in New York City, it has made Garrett quite popular in College Station, Texas.
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri linebacker
Brothers is the perfect player to highlight the typical Heisman voter’s bias. Brothers is not involved in a lot of highlights because that isn’t his job. His job is to make tackles, and nobody in the country has made more than the 128 he has tallied this season. Of course, that isn’t as flashy as what the star running backs and quarterbacks do each week, but Brothers’ role for the Tigers is no less valuable.
Charles Harris, Missouri defensive end
It would be fair to ask how a Missouri team that has struggled mightily for most of the season could possibly have two players who are worthy of being considered the best player in America. To that, the response should be, have you seen the Missouri offense play? Make no mistake about it, the Tigers offensive struggles aren’t the fault of Harris. He is too busy making tackles behind the line of scrimmage. His 17 tackles for loss tie him for third in the country. Unfortunately, just like the other players on this list, those numbers won’t be enough to put Harris on the minds of Heisman voters. He will instead have to settle for the attention he will one day get at the NFL draft.
It has been said that defense wins championships. That may be true, but defense clearly doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy. However, maybe the voters who’ve been given the job of identifying the best player in college football should be made aware that there are actually two sides of the ball worth their attention.