Kirby Smart makes powerful statement advocating for defensive Heisman winners

AUBURN, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 09: Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs converses with Nolan Smith #4 against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 09, 2021 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUBURN, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 09: Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs converses with Nolan Smith #4 against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 09, 2021 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart is never afraid to speak his mind — it’s one of the many things Dawg fans love about him.

During his Tuesday press conference, he made a statement about defensive players deserving consideration in the Heisman Trophy race, and his comment was perfect.

As the season progresses, Dawg fans, TV personalities, and everyone in between have advocated for Jordan Davis to be a Heisman Trophy consideration.

While Smart didn’t flat out advocate for Davis, he did for defensive players. There have been times when linebackers, defensive backs and defensive linemen were the more impressive football players, yet the Heisman Trophy voters left them out of the trip to New York.

No where in the trophy’s description does it say the winner has to play on the offensive side of the ball. It also doesn’t say that a defensive player cannot win, yet there has only been one winner in Charles Woodson, who played both sides of the ball.

It’s 2021, and this award should be ready to recognize that offensive stats aren’t the only thing that makes up the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers aren’t the only ones who possess diligence, perseverance, and hard worker traits.

That can be anyone on the field, especially a defensive player who fights every down to prevent the other team from succeeding.

"“I think it’s unfortunate that defensive players don’t get mentioned for it. I’m not necessarily advocating Jordan. I’m advocating defensive players because I feel like the NFL values that,” Smart said in his Tuesday press conference. “If you look over time, outside of the quarterback position, which they have to draft and they get drafted every year, four to five guys on average at quarterback.“Outside of that you have defensive players taking the top 10 every year because they can change the game when there’s pass rush or corner or somebody locking someone down or whatever the position maybe but it is what it is. It’s an award that has become quarterback, receiver, running back heavy and an ultimate respect for the award, but certainly some defensive players across the country deserve some kind of recognition. It’s almost like you wish you could take one every year to New York as a defensive player because it’s such a great event.”"

Smart is right, though. Defensive players are just as likely to get drafted high as quarterbacks, running backs, or even wide receivers, yet they are left out every year.

The award has become offensive-heavy, and while most of those guys deserved the title of Heisman Trophy winner, there have been years where a defensive player embodied what it means to win the trophy more than the offensive player that did.

Instead of exiling defensive players, include them. The Heisman Trophy voters should figure out how to incorporate them and weigh their stats against the offense stats they consider.

Davis isn’t going to have the most stats on the team as a nose tackle, he won’t get close, but if you look at his film and how big of an asset he is, then Davis falls naturally into the Heisman talk.

Other defensive players out there could have won the award include  Ndamukong Suh, Deon Sanders, Tyrann Mathieu, Champ Bailey, Dick Butkus and Hugh Green — these aren’t all of them, just some that come to mind off the top of my head.

Granted, Green was the runner-up to Herschel Walker in 1980, but still, he had quite the career at Pittsburgh that was worthy of a Heisman Trophy. No, I’m not saying he should have won it over Walker, but he is still a name to put on this list.

When you see that list of men, what comes to mind is statement players. All of those guys made tremendous impacts on the football field and were game changers for their teams. Without them, their teams wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.

Yes, Butkus ended up having a trophy named after him, Sanders won the Jim Thorpe Award, Bailey won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, but they all should have been given more credit in the Heisman race.

Just because someone didn’t score 40 touchdowns in a season or rushed for a crazy amount of yards doesn’t mean they should be out of the greatest college athlete award race.

Without defenses, some of these offensive playmakers wouldn’t have had the success they did.

Defenses get opponents off the field so their offenses can control the clock and make plays. I’m not taking away from the highly talented players who have won the award because some deserved it.

There needs to be a more even playing field that includes all players. If a guy defines the Heisman trophy traits, he should be part of the conversation. That reason is why Davis is mentioned by Paul Finebaum and other college football experts as someone who deserves to be in New York.

He is a walking definition of what it means to win this award, but he will likely get left off the list because he plays nose tackle. While traditions are great, this one has gone too far in one direction.

Yes, there are awards for just about everything nowadays, but I think they did that because many stars were left off the Heisman ballot.

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Smart advocating for defensive players to be involved in the Heisman Trophy race shouldn’t get overlooked. He decided to make a statement, and it’s one that people should appreciate.

Maybe Davis will be who changes the world’s mind.