South Carolina Gamecocks: Can Jadeveon Clowney Win Heisman Trophy?

Jeff Blake, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Heisman Trophy is the top individual honor in college football. Each year, the award is given to the most outstanding college football player in the minds of Heisman voters.

Over the past 14 seasons, the winner of the award has been either a running back or a quarterback. In fact, only five players that were not running backs or quarterbacks have ever won the award.

They were: Larry Kelly, an end from Yale who won in 1936; Leon Hart, an end for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 1949; Tim Brown, a wide receiver for Notre Dame in 1987; Desmond Howard, a wide receiver for the Michigan Wolverines in 1991; and Charles Woodson, a cornerback for Michigan in 1997.

Since Woodson’s upset victory over Peyton Manning, then quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers, it has been all quarterbacks and running backs who have won the award.

In 2013, the best player in college football may very well be a defensive lineman. Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end for the South Carolina Gamecocks, figures to have a dominating season in the always-tough Southeastern Conference. And while NFL scouts are salivating about Clowney’s potential, will Heisman voters give him a shot at winning the prestigious award?

Recent voting history does not bode well for Clowney. Last season, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o finished a distant second to Johnny Manziel, quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies. In 2009, Ndamukong Suh of the Nebraska Cornhuskers had a dominant season on the defensive line, but finished just fourth in the Heisman balloting.

The formula for Clowney to win the Heisman is two-fold. First, he must have the type of season that most experts are predicting for him — a season in which he is clearly the best defensive player in the country on one of the nation’s better teams.

The other thing that Clowney needs is for no “hot” offensive candidate (ie. Manziel or Robert Griffin III, formerly of the Baylor Bears) to emerge. If that happens, it will be tough for Clowney to prevail.

While it’s not impossible for Clowney to win the Heisman, it’s also not likely.

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