We all knew Jameis Winston was going to win the Heisman trophy last night in New York City.
For an hour, we got to hear about his and the other five other finalists story on how they got there. A.J. McCarron, Johnny Manziel, Jordan Lynch, Andre Williams and Tre Mason knew they were not going to win. But for any kid who grew up with the dream to play college football, being at the ceremony and recognized is a great life moment even without winning the Heisman.
Those who follow the Pittsburgh Panthers feel as though one particular person got snubbed by the voters. That being PITT defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who, like most defensive linemen, had a terrific season with not much publicity outside of the Pittsburgh media market.
Donald did not make it to New York as a finalist for Heisman, but racked up some very prestigious hardware over the past week.
ACC Defensive Player of the Year, The Lombardi Award, Nagurski Award and the Bednarik Award have all been won by Donald. You would think this would be enough to land him a seat as a finalist for the Heisman, right? Apparently, it did not.
Heisman voters are attracted to guys who run, throw or catch the football. It's an award mostly won by guys in skill positions. When a lineman or defensive player is a finalist, some judge why that player is on the ballot. They often forget what the Heisman stands for. The best player in college football. Believe or not, a nominee can be someone who doesn't always touch the ball. But voters get lost in watching guys like Winston and McCarron and never look at the other guys who help make them look good.
That's the burden of being a lineman, offensive or defensive. You never receive full credit when it's due. You are the one who protects the quarterback on offense, and creates holes for the running back. On defense, you are the guy who not only makes tackles and sacks the quarterback, but creates holes for his linebacker. Donald and other linemen are there to make those guys look even better than they are already.
Aaron Donald proved to everyone that he is one of the best, if not the best defensive linemen in college football. He did not have a larger, national platform to display his talents. He was a part of an average PITT team that went 6-6. Boston College was nothing exciting in the ACC this year at 7-5, but Andre Williams 2,000 plus rushing yards got him a seat the ceremony.
Everyone can yell and scream until they are blue in the face arguing why he deserved to be in New York as a finalist, but Aaron Donald doesn't need to prove himself to anyone by sitting in a suit watching Jameis Winston accept the Heisman on ESPN. He's got four awards to prove his worth.
The Heisman has a prejudice against linemen and defensive players. It's all about the flashiest, most talked about guy in the game. A person that the media will grab onto and ride with until they give them a reason to let go (like Teddy Bridgewater).
Aaron Donald didn't need that. He went about his business, and has been handsomely rewarded for it.