By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on July 10, 2014
With the 2014 college football season creeping closer, it seems like a good time to look at some of the players who could be in contention for the major postseason awards. The Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player, was won by Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald in 2013 after one of the most dominant seasons by a defensive linemen in recent memory. Who will emerge as the nation’s best defender this season?
Edwards was the top recruit for the class of 2012, but has yet to fulfill his massive potential. He will be playing on one of the nation’s best defenses on the nation’s best team, so he will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself.
Bennett is one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the country, as he racked up an impressive seven sacks in 2013. Bennett will be playing alongside Noah Spence and Joey Bosa on perhaps the best defensive line in the nation. That might make it harder for him to stand out, but he remains the Buckeyes’ most talented defender.
Jack became something of a folk hero as a freshman when he excelled, not just on defense, but also as a running back, scoring an incredible seven touchdowns on just 38 carries. While it remains to be seen how often Jack is used offensively this season, he will look to establish himself as one of the best linebackers in college football.
Every list needs a dark horse, and Fackrell certainly fits the bill here. Playing for Utah St., he doesn’t get the national recognition that other players on this list do. Though, that hasn’t stopped Fackrell from becoming one of the most productive and dominant defenders in the country.
The Crimson Tide are never lacking stars on defense, and Collins looks like the next in the long tradition of standout Alabama defenders. Blessed with incredible instincts, Collins was second on the team in tackles as only a sophomore. He will be a strong candidate for both the Bendarik and Thorpe awards, the latter given to the nation’s best DB.
Ekpre-Olomu surprised a lot of people by returning to Oregon for another season, but the Ducks are sure glad he did. Ekpre-Olomu is a difference maker, not only in coverage, but he is also one of the best run defenders at his position. Oregon’s offense will be getting a lot of attention this year, but thanks to Ekpre-Olomu, the defense won’t be half bad either.
Gregory is the best defender Nebraska has produced since some guy named Ndamukong Suh played there. The former JUCO player is a physical freak, possessing a combination of size and speed that is too much for most offensive linemen to handle. Nebraska fans hope Gregory will have a Suh-like impact on their season.
In a conference with a lot of very good defensive linemen (including numbers nine and four on this list), Calhoun might be the best of the bunch. In addition to 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss, Calhoun also scored three touchdowns off of returns last season. Calhoun should be the leader of a typically dominant Spartan defense.
Beasley has been overshadowed by teammates Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins in seasons past. That won’t be the case this year, as the Tigers’ defensive end will be gunning for every postseason award out there. With a rebuilding offense, Beasley and Clemson’s defense will need to carry the team at times this season.
Williams’ calling card is versatility. He can play almost anywhere along the defensive line, making him an absolute matchup nightmare. After a standout sophomore campaign when he wasn’t 100 percent, Williams has the potential to be a top-five pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. In between, he should be the best defensive player in college football in 2014.
March 2, 2015 by Tyler Brett
Oklahoma is shaking things up heading into spring practice. Could Baker Mayfield take advantage and win the starting QB job for 2015? Read More
February 28, 2015 by Jerry Landry
Mark Dantonio needs a workhorse to replace Jeremy Langford in 2015, and he may have found one in four-star recruit L.J. Scott. Read More
Until the Big 12 can reissue a conference championship game for football, they'll continue to receive snubs from the college football playoff committee. Read More
February 27, 2015 by Tyler Brett
Sean Maguire is the safe choice to start for Florida State in 2015 but that doesn't mean he'll get the job. Read More
February 27, 2015 by Mike Gibson
Temple football had five major problem areas last year in a 6-6 season, and four of them can be addressed with the addition of a player whose name could surprise a lot of Owl fans. Read More
February 25, 2015 by Nick Wilder
Notre Dame spring practice begins in a just a few weeks, and there promises to be several intriguing positional battles throughout. Read More
February 25, 2015 by Tyler Brett
Silas Nacita has been ruled ineligible for not wanting to be homeless, putting the NCAA in an uncomfortable public spotlight once again. Read More
February 24, 2015 by Mike Gibson
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, Temple giving a new deal to Matt Rhule would be insane. Read More
February 23, 2015 by Tim Letcher
The Ole Miss Rebels were in the mix for the SEC West title last season. Read More
Perhaps no SEC team had a more surprising 2014 season than the Arkansas Razorbacks. Read More
February 23, 2015 by Tyler Brett
The NCAA is reportedly looking into reinstating a rule to make freshmen ineligible for football and men's basketball and it's a terrible idea. Read More
February 23, 2015 by Brian Kalchik
Here are five questions for USC football entering 2015 spring practice. Read More