This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.
PLAYERS WHO COULD KEEP JOHNNY MANZIEL FROM ANOTHER HEISMAN
NO. 5, JADEVEON CLOWNEY
We'd like to put South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney higher. He's likely the best player in college football regardless of position. Anyone who really understands football appreciates how good he is, and how he impacts games.
But let's be honest. History says voters are incapable of giving the Heisman Trophy to a purely defensive player.
Charles Woodson would not have won the award without playing some offense and returning punts for Michigan in 1997. We don't think Clowney will be doing either in 2013 (though he did have that catch in the spring game ... ).
The first Heisman Trophy was given out in 1935, and since then there hasn't been one winner who has played exclusively on defense. It's literally inconceivable that through all those decades, not once was a defensive player the most outstanding in the sport over a season. But not one has ever gotten enough votes to win the Heisman.
It's a shame. So while Clowney is probably the best player in the nation, or at least second to Johnny Manziel, ranking him higher on the list would probably be foolish. He's not going to win the award unless he does something really special this season.
That said, if anyone is capable of something really special, it's Clowney. His famous hit in the Outback Bowl (and the incredible season that led up to it) gives him more Heisman momentum going into a season than any defensive player has ever had. That helps.
Clowney would have to put up a statistic that forces voters to really consider him over all the quarterbacks and their easily sortable numbers. The best guess is Clowney has to hit 20 sacks for that to happen. If he can tie or break Derrick Thomas' record of 27 sacks in a season, you'd imagine he'll break that Heisman drought for defensive players. But that's quite a leap considering he had just 13 last season. Sacks are hard to get and they're not the only way to measure how good a defensive end is. Clowney could have a bigger impact, by drawing way more attention in blocking schemes and rushing quarterbacks who are well aware of his presence into bad throws, and never get close to 20 sacks. And without a milestone number, voters will be forced to judge Clowney's candidacy on things that are hard to quantify.
We'd like Clowney to get a real shot at the Heisman Trophy. It would be a great story and long overdue proof that, yes, the best player in college football can be found on defense. And he is obviously one of the handful of players in college football this season who has a very good chance at keeping Manziel from winning his second straight Heisman Trophy. We're just not betting on it happening, no matter how great Clowney is.
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