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The Case for Hunter Dimick to be a Chuck Bednarik Award Finalist

Utah v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The three finalists have been named for many college football awards including the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given to the defensive player of the year. The finalists for the award are: Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, and Michigan defensive back/linebacker Jabrill Peppers. When you first hear those names, it seems like three great choices, but a more deserving candidate was missed: Utah defensive end Hunter Dimick. Both Allen and Garrett play the same position as Dimick, allowing for an "apples to apples" comparison between the three players, while Peppers plays a totally different position for Michigan. Michigan and Alabama have the two best defenses in the country, so the best player from each defense certainly deserves to be a finalist for the best defensive player of the year. Garrett however has seen a drop in stats from previous seasons and plays on a defense that is statistically worse than Utah's. I believe that Dimick should have been the third finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award over Garrett for several reasons.

Many think Garrett is a good chance to be taken with the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. NFL Draft status should not have a bearing on a strictly college football award however. There is no doubt Garrett is talented and faces double teams on most plays, but most great defensive linemen see double teams frequently. Dimick plays strong side defensive end, so he has to deal with more pulling linemen and tight ends as a consequence, while Garrett plays on the weak side; this makes Dimick’s production all the more impressive. Garrett's stats are down this year as well, while Dimick is having the best year of his career (and he recorded 10 sacks in 2014). Now obviously stats are not everything, which is why air raid quarterbacks rarely win the Dave O'Brien Award for example, but they cannot be ignored either. Dimick leads the nation in sacks with 14, while Garrett is tied for No. 24 with only 8.5. Dimick's five sacks against the Sun Devils is the most by any player this year and tied a Pac-12 record. Dimick is tied for second in the nation with 19.5 tackles for loss, while Garrett is tied for 19th with 15. Dimick has 50 tackles compared to 32 for Garrett. What this shows me is Dimick does a lot more than just rush the passer, including dropping into coverage on occasion.

One difference between Dimick and Garrett is that Dimick has played really well in big games for Utah while Garrett has largely disappeared. For a national award, big game performance should be a factor. It is telling that Garett's best game came against an overmatched UTSA team while Dimick's came in a must-win game at a Pac-12 South rival. Garrett was held without a sack against both Alabama and LSU. Garrett recorded two sacks against Auburn, but that was the only game against an SEC West opponent where Garrett recorded at least one sack. Dimick on the other hand recorded Arizona State, UCLA, and USC, totally seven sacks against Pac-12 South rivals. As mentioned previously, Garrett has 8.5 sacks this season. However, 4.5 of his sacks came against UT San Antonio, meaning he had only recorded four sacks against Power 5 competition, while Dimick had more sacks against Arizona State alone.

When you are naming finalists for an award given to the best defensive player in college football, how can the nation's leader in sacks, who is also second in tackles for loss be left out? Dimick may not be flashy. He does not run a 4.5 40-yard dash. He does not play in the SEC. He was not hyped coming into the season. He is not going to be a first round draft pick. However, Dimick's job is to make plays in the backfield, and he has done it as well or better than anyone in the country, and therefore, he should have been a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award.