CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Simmons is a dynamic player who could draw some Heisman votes.
Simmons is a dynamic player who could draw some Heisman votes.

Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons on USA TODAY Heisman watch list


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Clemson junior linebacker Isaiah Simmons is having the kind of season that may just keep the ACC Defensive Player of the Year honor in house.

He may also draw some Heisman votes.

Clelin Ferrell won ACC DPOY last year and Simmons' versatility also has him dominating the highlight reel as a player each opposing offense has to account for. USA TODAY's Heisman Watch has Simmons with a projected Heisman vote as a top-three player in the country, as one of three defenders to earn that recognition.

Clemson records Simmons as having team-leading totals in tackles (69; 55 solo), tackles for loss (11.5), sacks (6) and QB pressures (12) in 500 snaps. Simmons has an interception and five pass breakups as well.

The Heisman Trophy has been awarded to the nation's most outstanding offensive player in all but the case of Michigan's Charles Woodson, who won in 1997 as primarily a defensive player and also a punt returner and wide receiver. The closest defender to winning the trophy recently was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finishing second in 2012 (321 1st votes, 1,706 points to Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel's 474 first-place votes, 2,029 votes).

USA TODAY has LSU QB Joe Burrow as the unquestioned favorite currently (all 21 first-place votes), followed by Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts and Ohio State QB Justin Fields.

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