A quartet that started the season with question marks but finished it with exclamation points
December 14, 2015
PHOTOPhotograph by Vern Verna AL Wire/LandovShaq Lawson DE Clemson The 6'3", 270-pound junior spent two years apprenticing under another edge rusher, Vic Beasley, who was picked No. 8 in the 2015 draft. Finally given the chance, Lawson has also caught the eye of NFL scouts, recording 22½ tackles for loss—including 9½ sacks—for the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff. PHOTOPhotograph by Matthew Holst Getty ImagesDesmond King CB Iowa The star of the defense that helped propel coach Kirk Ferentz's club to a 12--0 regular season and a berth in the Big Ten title game personified the Hawkeye way: King, a junior, was a three-star recruit headed to the MAC before Iowa swooped in, and he developed into a 5'11", 200-pound shut-down corner who has tied a school record this year with eight interceptions. PHOTOPhotograph by Matthew O'Haren/USA Today SportsCarl Nassib, DE Penn State The former walk-on (and younger brother of Giants quarterback Ryan) finished as one of the most dominant defensive forces in the country. Nassib went from 3½ tackles for loss and one sack in 2014 to a nation-leading 15½ sacks in '15, an effort that earned the 6'7", 272-pound senior Big Ten defensive player of the year honors. PHOTOPhotograph by Jamie Squire Getty ImagesCorey Coleman WR Baylor His 74 catches for 1,363 yards track closely to his 64 catches for 1,119 yards in 2014, but his touchdown grabs have gone way up, from 11 to 20. The 5'11", 190-pound junior was on pace to break the record of 27 until injuries to starting quarterback Seth Russell on Oct. 24 and backup Jarrett Stidham on Nov. 21 deprived him of a reliable arm to get him the ball.