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Tag:Adrian Clayborn
Posted on: July 13, 2010 8:22 am
Edited on: July 13, 2010 8:24 am
 

Defensive players to watch in Heisman race

Ndamukong Suh did something that most defensive players never get to do ... earn Heisman Trophy votes. Suh finished fourth last season behind Mark Ingram, Toby Gerhart and Colt McCoy.

He was the first defensive player to finish that high since Charles Woodson won the award for Michigan in 1997. Numerous players have earned votes, like A.J. Hawk, LaVar Arrington and Glenn Dorsey, so it is not uncommon for a player to finish in the Top 10.

Here are a handful of guys that have the best chance to earn votes for this year's Heisman, which will be handed out Dec. 11 in New York.

Adrian Clayborn, Iowa: After earning MVP honors in the Orange Bowl, Clayborn was a guy I thought could definitely be on some Heisman watch lists. He recorded 36 solo tackles with 20 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles last season. Iowa's defense will be strong again and some experts have the Hawkeyes challenging for the national championship this year. It won't be because of the offense, so look to the defense for somebody to be the leader. Enter Clayborn. Oct. 2 vs. Penn State and Nov. 20 vs. Ohio State will be the two biggest games of the season for Iowa.

Jared Crick, Nebraska: He'll have to follow one of the greatest Nebraska defensive players in history in Ndamukong Suh, but Crick will definitely make a name for himself in 2010. The first-team All-Big 12 member recorded 9.5 sacks last season, while also having 15 tackles for a loss. He also recorded 73 tackles, including 42 solo. As great as Crick is, hopefully the voters' won't penalize him because of what Suh did last year because he deserves to be judged on his own merit. With Nebraska ranked in the Top 10 in most preseason polls, Crick could definitely follow Suh and earn votes at the end of the season. Oct. 16 vs. Texas will be the Huskers biggest challenge of the season.

Von Miller, Texas A&M: The first-team All-American might end up being the best defensive player in the nation. Listen to the season this kid had -- led the nation is sacks (17) and finished fifth in the nation in tackles for a loss. Against Texas he had 2.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and even broke up two passes. He is expected to be a finalist for numerous defensive awards, so if Miller and the Aggies can make some waves in the Big 12, I expect him to finish in the Top 10 of the Heisman voting. It all comes down to a strong finish as the team faces Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas in three of the final four games.

Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh: With the Panthers projected to be a force in the Big East, look for the senior to improve on his numbers from last season. Romeus racked up a team-high eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss. The first-team All-Big East performer and Hendricks finalist just might be able to garner some votes if the Panthers are near the Top 15 most of the year. Keep an eye on how Romeus does in the team's biggest games -- at Utah (Sept. 6), Miami (Sept. 23), West Virginia (Nov. 26) and at Cincinnati (Dec. 4).

Patrick Peterson, LSU: Peterson is a great cover corner, earning first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American honors last year. Two of the best receivers in the country last year A.J. Green and Julio Jones combined for just seven catches when covered by Peterson. The junior also ranked third in the SEC in passes defended with two interceptions. As great a player as he is, to really get the eyes of the Heisman voters, he'll need to improve the INT numbers and make some game-changing plays in the SEC. The nation will get to see Peterson right off the bat in the season opener against North Carolina on Sept. 4. Of course the clash vs. the Gators will be Oct. 9 and the Tigers play Alabama on Nov. 6.

Greg Jones, Michigan State: Here's all the numbers you need from Jones -- 154 tackles, which ranked third in the nation (11.85 per game). The consensus first-team All-American also finished fifth in the Big Ten and 30th in the nation with nine sacks and 51st with a team-high 13.5 tackles for a loss. Jones is a beast, but the problem with linebackers and the Heisman race is, too many players have great tackle numbers. Still, keep an eye on Jones, especially when he faces Wisconsin (Oct. 2), at Iowa (Oct. 30), and at Penn State (Nov. 27).

Rahim Moore, UCLA: Moore is one of the best safeties in the nation, earning first-team All-American honors after recording 10 interceptions in 13 games. It was the first time a player had at least 10 INTs since 2003. If Moore can record double-digit picks again and has UCLA in the hunt for the Pac-10 title, than he has a shot to get a few votes. The problem will be that the Bruins aren't expected to win more than 6 or 7 games with a schedule that consists of road game against Texas, California, Oregon and Washington.

Greg Reid, Florida State: The biggest long shot on my list is mostly known for his special team play instead of his secondary play. Reid led the nation with a 18.4-yard punt return average and also averaged 25.5 on kick returns. The only chance he gets some Heisman attention is to explode in the return game like Raghib Ismail did and get some interceptions on defense (had just two last season).

 
 
 
 
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