Give Derek Barnett the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s earned it.
The Vols defensive end is considered one of the top defensive players in all of college football. He has the stats to back it up. Barnett’s eleven sacks this season leads the SEC, and he’s only one sack away from tying Reggie White’s career school record (32).
The only other real competition for the award comes from Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham.
Derek Barnett vs Zach Cunningham
— A to Z Sports (@AtoZSports) November 23, 2016
As I stated above, this should be Barnett’s awards. The only statistical category he Cunningham owns him in is total tackles and that is due to the positions they play.
Both guys have made game winning plays for their teams. Cunningham wrapped up Isaiah McKenzie on a fourth down play to win the game against Georgia. Ironically, Barnett forced a fumble on Georgia QB Jacob Eason that was recovered in the end zone for a Tennessee touchdown. That play helped save the game for the Vols.
In a season where the UT defense has been decimated with injuries, Barnett’s leadership has taken on a huge role. The defense lost both of its senior captains, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Cam Sutton, to injury. The junior sack-man took over their on field leadership roles while excelling in conference play.
Barnett was snubbed from the Badnarik Award, which recognizes the best defensive player in the country. Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett was named as one of the three finalists. He shouldn’t have been.
Myles Garrett has 8.5 sacks on the season, & 4.5 of those came against UT-San Antonio. Derek Barnett’s 11 sacks have all come vs. SEC teams
— Nathanael Rutherford (@Mr_Rutherford) November 21, 2016
Butch on Derek Barnett being left off national awards lists: “I don’t know what else an individual has to do.”
— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownTFP) November 23, 2016
If the SEC gives the Defensive Player of the Year award to Garrett, it’s a complete sham. Don’t do it, SEC.