Some people laughed at me last August when I wrote a column suggesting that a Nebraska defensive tackle with a difficult-to-pronounce first name should be considered among the
Four months later,
So, as a public service to my fellow voters, I'm going to build on my Suh/
If anyone can take the husky Heisman mantle from Suh, it's Iowa defensive end
But the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Clayborn is every bit the athletic freak Suh was. He announced that to the nation during last season's win against Arizona, when he lined up on the back side of the play and
Clayborn played his best in the biggest games. One of the Hawkeyes' finest memories of last season has to be Clayborn blocking a Penn State punt, scooping it up and returning it 53 yards for the score that gave Iowa a lead it never would relinquish as a whited-out Beaver Stadium crowd sat in stunned silence. In an overtime loss at Ohio State in the de facto Big Ten title game, Clayborn racked up 12 tackles (three for loss) and a sack. In Iowa's Orange Bowl win against Georgia Tech, Clayborn was named MVP after making nine tackles, including two sacks of Yellow Jackets quarterback
One play from the Orange Bowl epitomizes Clayborn's tenacity. After beating the left tackle, Clayborn rumbled toward Nesbitt. The agile Nesbitt stepped into the pocket just as the left guard got a hand on Clayborn, and Clayborn sailed past. Clayborn quickly adjusted course, ran back the other way and buried Nesbitt.
More important was what Clayborn did on plays when he didn't make the tackle. No defensive end in America moves down the line of scrimmage as efficiently as Clayborn. Even if he doesn't reach the ballcarrier, he can force the action to the sideline -- the defense's 12th tackler -- or back inside, where the rest of the Hawkeyes are waiting. If defensive coordinator
Clayborn also has the critical element every Heisman contender needs -- an able sidekick. Last year, Suh had fellow tackle
Unfortunately for those of us who appreciate a quality defensive lineman, Iowa isn't the type of program that will go out of its way to tout a D-end for the Heisman. And though he's listed as an administrator on the "Adrian Clayborn for Heisman 2010" Facebook page, Clayborn won't help much, either. "I don't think about [awards] at all -- especially the Heisman," Clayborn told reporters at Big Ten media days.
(Clayborn also has another issue. Heisman voters don't look kindly on legal problems, and Clayborn pleaded guilty in March to disorderly conducted after he was arrested and accused of punching a cab driver in January 2009. Clayborn explained at media days that he responded to a racial slur directed at him by the cab driver, so we'll have to see if voters accept that explanation.)
Clayborn is the best option for a non-traditional Heisman choice, but a few other players fit the bill. These guys might also deserve consideration come December.
This is by no means a complete list, but hopefully it adds a few deserving names to the Heisman mix. Suh did every player in the trenches proud last season. Here's betting Clayborn will do the same this year. The only question is whether more Heisman voters will notice.