Let's get this out of the way right now: None of these guys can win the Heisman.
It's a new day, and simply put, we'll never see a defensive player win the Heisman. If Ndamukong Suh couldn't win it (and I would have voted for him if I'd had a Heisman vote that year), then nobody could.
It wouldn't stop me from voting for a defender who deserved it, but lots of voters just won't make it possible. Charles Woodson did it in 1997, but we live in a new day full of high-powered, fast-paced offenses and he was a dynamic return man, too.
Buuuuuut, what if defenders could win the Heisman? They can certainly have an impact. That much is clear.
Our man Chris Huston at HeismanPundit.com broke down his top 10, which featured three possible winners from the Big 12:
5. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas – Jeffcoat had a fine sophomore season with 63 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. Despite those stellar numbers, one gets the sense he still hasn’t come close to fulfilling his potential. He might get there as a junior, which could result in some Heisman attention.
My take: Everyone, myself included, keeps waiting for Jeffcoat to explode. If it happens this year, and it very well might, I'd agree that he's going to blow up on the national stage, too. He's a junior with a ton of experience. He's in the second year of a fairly complex scheme under Manny Diaz. It's all there for him if he stays healthy.
6. Tony Jefferson, S/LB, Oklahoma – Jefferson is a versatile and explosive defender in the mold of past Sooner hybrid-type defensive backs like Roy Williams and Donte Nicholson. He had 74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 4 interceptions as a 2011 sophomore. If he improves on those numbers and helps the Sooners to the Big 12 title, he might make some noise in the Heisman race.
My take: I feel bad for Jefferson, who's expressed some frustration at being snubbed for All-Big 12 honors and awards in the past. The only reason is he's moved around. Anyone who watches OU knows how obvious it is that Jefferson's one of the most gifted defenders in the Big 12. Now, he's been moved back to traditional safety, where he can wreak all kinds of havoc. Will he stay there in new DC Mike Stoops' scheme? We'll find out.
7. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State – Brown really came into his own as a 2011 junior, as the former highly-touted recruit made 101 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and an interception (of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, no less). Brown is the latest in a stellar line of fast and tough K-State linebackers, so look for a ton of honors to flow his way if he comes through with a special senior season.
My take: Brown's biggest asset is his sure tackling. That's exactly what linebackers have to do in the wide-open Big 12 full of offenses whose sole goal is to get playmakers the ball in space. Brown makes sure that space is eliminated, and with his speed, does it quickly. He held together K-State's defense last year, and if the Wildcats get on a winning run again, he'll definitely get much-deserved attention.