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Will Anderson’s Heisman Trophy Snub Inexplicable

  • The Draft Network
  • December 9, 2021
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Despite being college football’s most impactful player in 2021, Will Anderson’s name was not included among the finalists for the Heisman Trophy. The snub of the country’s pound-for-pound top player on either side of the ball has raised questions about the exact specifications and logistics that are involved in the award’s selection process. While the decision-makers have made strides, as last year’s winner in DeVonta Smith served as just the second wideout to win the award since Michigan’s Desmond Howard did so in 1991, it’s hard to ignore the lack of seemingly common sense from a panel to leave Anderson off the ballot.

You’ve heard the praise surrounding Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux, two of the country’s most high-impact edge defenders (and rightly so), but are they just going to slip Anderson’s campaign under the rug because he’s a non-draft-eligible true sophomore? So because he won’t be in Las Vegas to hear his name called on night one of the 2022 NFL Draft we exclude him from CFB’s most prestigious award? The trophy and its process have become an influence of audience and marketing. With that, a talent like Anderson and guys like Larry Fitzgerald all the way back in 2003, who far and away deserved to hoist the award, failed to receive the necessary notoriety. 

As quarterbacks have historically dominated the Heisman’s history, in which just two (Smith/Derrick Henry) non-signal-callers have taken the award home since 1999—excluding Reggie Bush’s vacated 2005 Heisman—when do we begin to question the panel about its ability to understand positional value, and, frankly, it’s stance on Anderson, the nation’s premier player?

Already in line to become a top-three selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, let me explain why Anderson potentially not winning a national award this year is completely laughable. 

With 15.5 sacks this year, Anderson leads all of CFB. He also has 10.5 more TFL’s than anyone in the country and leads the nation with 31.5 overall, two shy of the all-time single-season record. That production, remember, in just his second season in Tuscaloosa, in the SEC against the country’s top athletes, where Anderson was often doubled and tripled teamed—his output is video-game-like. A one-man wrecking ball within Nick Saban’s defense, Anderson totaled 53 pressures against SEC competition, the most by any defender since 2016, and recorded a 23% pressure rate on non-blitzes, good for fourth-best in the country. 

Allow me to compare. 

  • Will Anderson: 91 tackles, 31.5 TFLs, 15.5 sacks
  • Aidan Hutchinson: 58 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 14 sacks

If you pulled someone aside, placed those numbers in front of them, and asked them to select ‘who stands out?’, I don’t think I need to explain what name would follow. A voting process that has turned into a regional event where the final two-to-three games of players’ seasons are the only ones put under a microscope, it’s truly baffling why Anderson doesn’t have a ticket to New York. With potentially two more games remaining in his sophomore campaign, good luck to the offensive linemen, tight ends, running backs, and offensive coordinators who will be tasked with attempting to slow down a now further-inspired bullet off the edge in the 6-foot-4, 243-pound Anderson.

A prospect with the ability to ravage a game plan and take over at a moment’s notice, the limited amount of spotlight tailored to Anderson’s game as we enter postseason festivities—less than Chase Young in 2019, and drastically less than Hutchinson this fall—has presented a drastic flaw within college football’s most prestigious award’s process. While Anderson may have to wait to earn his pat on the back until next winter, enjoy watching No. 31 for the time being, as his dominance and skill set have presented the most electric defensive talent the college football landscape has to offer.

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