Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is heading into what almost certainly will be his final season in College Station. One of the great athletes in college football, Garrett is a long shot to do what only one primarily defensive player has ever accomplished – win the Heisman Trophy.
The odds are stacked against him. But…
At the end of the 1997 college football season, Michigan defensive back and punt returner Charles Woodson pulled off a Heisman Trophy heist, beating out Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf, Randy Moss and Ricky Williams.
Woodson is the last and only non-offensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. Of course, returning punts, one of which he took back for a touchdown, added an extra, offensive-like excitement, and he also got snaps at wide receiver. Still, he was a terrific defensive player with seven interceptions in 11 games that season.
Over the years, there have been a handful of defensive players to make it into the top five of Heisman voting. In 2012, A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel beat out Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. Former South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney finished sixth and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones finished 10th.
Former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu finished fifth in 2011. Former Nebraska sack master Ndamukong Suh, who posted 12 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2009, finished fourth.
So odds are not good for any defensive player, and especially one with no return or offensive duties, to win the Heisman Trophy.
Entering the 2016 season, there is only one defensive player in the nation deemed worthy enough to be included among the top 32 on the early Heisman Trophy odds list – Garrett.
Texas A&M is one of five teams (Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee) to place two players on the early odds list. The Aggies are the only team to play a defensive player on there. At 100/1, it might be a good time for a weekend trip to Las Vegas and place a small wager on the young man from Arlington Martin.
The 6-foot-5, 262-pound Garrett boasts the kind of ridiculous athleticism that makes NFL personnel drool. In two seasons, he’s recorded 22.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss (108 total tackles). He deemed last season’s sack total of 11.5 to be a failure, and has vowed to come back this year with the goal of breaking every A&M record possible.
His 11 sacks in 2014 set A&M’s single-sack record and broke Clowney’s SEC record for most sacks in a season by a freshman.
If Garrett truly is able to track down multiple A&M records and put the Aggies in contention for the SEC championship, maybe he can also put himself in the Heisman discussion.