Berry, Cody finalists for Nagurski Trophy

November, 19, 2009
11/19/09
3:30
PM ET
No disrespect to the five finalists named Thursday for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which honors the defensive player of the year in college football, but the best defensive player in the SEC this season didn't make the cut.

Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain was not among the five finalists, but two SEC players were -- Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody and Tennessee safety Eric Berry.

The other three finalists were Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer, TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

McClain has been the driving force for Alabama's defense this season and has made one big play after another for the Crimson Tide. It's hard to imagine a defender who's more valuable to his team than McClain when you consider all the different hats he wears and his knowledge of that defense.

Cody's been a space-eater in the middle for the Tide and had the two huge blocked kicks in the Tennessee game, but cornerback Javier Arenas has been the second best defensive player on Alabama's team this season.

Berry, too, has been a huge part of Tennessee's defensive success, although his interception numbers are down from his first two seasons. The Vols are using him more like a linebacker in Monte Kiffin's system, and he leads all SEC defensive backs in tackles per game.

South Carolina outside linebacker Eric Norwood, Florida cornerback Joe Haden and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson would also be in the conversation if I were picking defensive player of the year candidates this season in the SEC.

Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman deserves some love, too. He leads the league in sacks and tackles for loss.

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