Winning the Heisman Trophy is an incredibly challenging task. It’s almost impossible if you’re a defensive player, but it has happened before.
In 1997, Charles Woodson became the first primary defensive player to take home the award. Since then, there hasn’t been a defender to hoist the most prestigious award in college football, though a few have come close.
Recently, Sports Illustrated released a list of 117 players who could compete for the Heisman Trophy, and a small portion (eight players), were defensive stars. It’s a slim percentage of the candidates, but there’s also a slim chance that a defensive player wins, too.
Of the eight candidates, two were from the B1G — Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie and Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson. Both will be team leaders heading into the 2019 season.
Bachie is coming off a season in which he tallied 102 tackles, 8.5 for loss, forced three fumbles and recorded an interception. The heart of Michigan State’s defense, Bachie will be a strong candidate to win the B1G Linebacker of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2019.
If he can replicate the same amount of production and capture the football a little more often — more interceptions, forced fumbles and recoveries — he could be a Heisman Trophy candidate.
With Devin Bush gone, Hudson will be the anchor for Michigan’s defense this fall. His numbers weren’t eye-popping — 44 stops, two sacks and two blocked kicks — but as he steps into a bigger role, his production could increase substantially.
Hudson has the athleticism and explosiveness to be in the conversation as one of the best linebackers in the country.
Winning the Heisman Trophy as a defensive player is pretty slim. But there’s always a chance it could happen. If anyone can win it, these two B1G linebackers have as good of a shot as anyone.
The other six candidates mentioned by Sports Illustrated were Shaq Quarterman (Miami), Grant Delpit (LSU), Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma), Caden Sterns (Texas), Troy Dye (Oregon), Alohi Gilman (Notre Dame).