In the 2012 season the Heisman committee showed that they were at least open to the idea of having a true defender win the Heisman Trophy, something that hasn't happened since Michigan's Charles Woodson achieved the feat in 1997.
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's middle linebacker, ended up in second in the Heisman voting while recording 113 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and seven interceptions. Interceptions were the only category in which he was listed in the top ten nationwide, being tied for second.
This could possibly have opened the door for players such as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. As a sophomore he was able to record 23.5 tackles for a loss (T-2), 13 sacks (T-3) and 54 tackles. If he is able to build off that in his junior (and likely final) season in Columbia, it will be hard to overlook him as one of the finalists.
Football is a sport with two sides, offense and defense, so you have to imagine that the best player in the nation could be on defense. The thing defensive players have going against them is that they are not able to put up the gaudy numbers that many offensive players, especially quarterbacks, are able to post. Since Reggie Bush's 2005 Heisman was revoked, there has only been one player since 1999 to win the award that was not a quarterback (Mark Ingram, 2009).
In his first two years of college ball, Clowney has been one of the most dominating defensive ends in recent history. If he is able to lead his defense to a top five ranking, his team a trip to the SEC Championship game, and national prominence, his chances will greatly increase.
Clowney's Heisman campaign is already off to a fast start since his bone-crunching hit in the Outback Bowl against Michigan continues to air on TV networks across the country and will resonate in the minds of voters. If he is able to get off to a fast start in 2013, and put up top five stats in multiple categories, he could become the first player in 16 years to match Woodson's accomplishment.
Can Clowney win Heisman in 2013?
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