Suh and Heisman History

Ndamukong Suh has already made Heisman history by becoming just the 21st defensive player to make it into the top five of the Heisman balloting.

He’s also poised to log the best finish by a defensive lineman since Steve Emtman took fourth in 1991.

But I think he’s got a chance to make his mark going back even further.  Defensive end Hugh Green of Pittsburgh took second in the Heisman voting in 1980.  That’s the highest finish ever by a pure defensive player (no, Charles Woodson was not a pure defender, since he also played offense and returned kicks). 

I don’t see Suh winning or finishing second, but I do think he will get the most first-place votes by a defensive player since Green captured 179 in 1980.

Most First-Place Votes by a Pure Defensive Player

1. Hugh Green, Pitt, DE, 1980–179

2. Alex Karras, Iowa, DT, 1957–128

3. Rich Glover, Nebraska, DT, 1972–99

4. Marvin Jones, FSU, LB, 1992–81

5. Mike Reid, Penn State, DT, 1969–61


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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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