Lost in all the hubbub over the crazy Heisman race is the fact that Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald is having a season for the ages.
Forget Jadeveon Clowney. He’s been all hype up to this point. When it comes to picking the best defensive player in college football, it all begins and ends with the Panthers’ No. 97.
Consider for a moment that the NCAA record for tackles for loss in a season is 32 by Jason Babin of Western Michigan in 2003. But keep in mind that Babin achieved that mark as a defensive end.
Through 11 games, Donald currently has a nation-leading 26 tackles for loss. With two games to play, Babin’s mark is in jeopardy. But the crazy thing about it is that Donald is doing all this as an interior lineman. It’s extremely rare for a defensive tackle to surpass 20 tackles for loss in a season.
That’s not all Donald is doing. He also has 10 sacks — another amazing number for an interior lineman — plus 51 overall tackles, four forced fumbles, two pass breakups, 16 quarterback hurries and a blocked kick (that sealed Pitt’s win over Syracuse this past Saturday).
There’ve been a few defensive players over the years who’ve made runs at the Heisman, most recently Manti Te'o of Notre Dame last season. The fact that Donald is currently being overlooked just goes to show you that some people don’t really watch the games very closely, but instead rely on hype and hearsay when doling out awards and honors.