Penn State’s defense was so fun in 2014. By now, you know all the stats that show this: first nationally in rushing defense, second in total defense, eighth in scoring defense, 11th in passing defense. While plenty of coaching went into this — just look at our Position Coach of the Year Award nominees as proof — it certainly helped that there were a bevy of fantastic players on that side of the ball.
Fortunately, three players really stuck out — well, in one guy’s case, he didn’t stick out and that’s what made him so great — and coming up with three nominees was easy.
Without further adieu, here are your nominees for Penn State’s 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Award:
- Adrian Amos, DB
- Mike Hull, LB
- Anthony Zettel, DL
I don’t remember who it was, but someone in a comment section said that you never heard Adrian Amos’s name this year and for a defensive back, this is a really good thing. Nobody wanted to test Penn State’s veteran cornerback/safety hybrid, who went out with a bang during his senior campaign. Amos registered 42 tackles this year, 2.5 for a loss, and was tied for the team lead with three interceptions. He also was tops on the team with 10 passes defended and was second with seven passes broken up. Amos was a freak of nature who was capable of playing all over the place, which made it a lot easier for the other three or four or five guys who relied on him to do work in the secondary.
There isn’t much I can say about Mike Hull that hasn’t been said already. He was one of the best — if not the best — linebackers in America in 2014, and if you had the football, he was going to tackle you. A lot. Hull had an absurd 140 tackles last season, which is nuts, especially when you remember that the guy with the second most tackles (Nyeem Wartman) "only" had 75. Hull’s 10.5 tackles for loss were third on the team, and he managed to stuff the stat sheet in other little ways. He ended the year with two sacks, an interception, three pass breakups, four passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Of course, there’s also the intangible things that Hull did so well, like how he organized Penn State’s defense and always seemed to know exactly where he needed to be to make a play. I miss him already.
The only returning player on this list is Anthony Zettel, who probably deserves to be nicknamed "The Baddest Man On The Planet" after his 2014 performance. Zettel led the team in tackles for loss (17) and sacks (8), and was tied for the team lead in interceptions (3) and forced fumbles (1). When Penn State needed a big play on 3rd and 4 or something, Zettel would destroy an interior lineman and get to the opposing quarterback. It’s just what he did. He wasn’t phased by his move from defensive end this year — if anything, he embraced it. Honestly, what else can you say about Anthony Zettel? He is a bad mothereffer, and while a lot of people probably expected him to be kinda good, odds are nobody expected him to be as spectacular as he was during 2014. Just think of next year. Goodness. He may kill someone.
So there are your nominees. As always, vote in the poll below, and feel free to discuss your pick or if anyone deserved to make this list over someone else in the comments.