When the final chapter closes on the 2016 season for Penn State, who exactly will be the top player for a hopefully once-again stringent defense? With several top defenders from 2015 now looking to find their way in the NFL, the door is open for a number of new candidates to stake their claim as Penn State's defensive MVP.
The most obvious candidates seem to be any of the trio of starting linebackers- Brandon Bell, Jason Cabinda and Nyeem Wartman-White. A logical case can easily be made for each. Cabinda was the team's leading tackler as a true sophomore and will only get better as an upperclassman. Bell is a high-intensity player with a penchant for the big play that can swing momentum in Penn State's favor at the drop of a hat. Wartman-White is simply everywhere on the field, and his impact is undeniable all for four quarters of each contest.
Garrett Sickels could take a huge leap as a redshirt junior and will be counted on as a leader of a very young defensive line. Marcus Allen has unlimited potential and could become one of the best safeties around if he's able to dust off the shoulder injury that affected his play for most of 2015. However, my gut is telling me it will be someone who has yet to receive his first start as a Nittany Lion- Torrence Brown.
Brown is a uniquely athletic defensive end who made the most of his limited snaps in 2015. With Carl Nassib now a member of the Cleveland Browns, Brown is certain to see his workload greatly increase. He is currently in a battle with senior Evan Schwan (another player who could come out of nowhere for a huge season this fall) for the starting gig opposite of Sickels. Both will receive plenty of playing time and will be relied upon to harass opposing quarterbacks, but something tells me Brown will emerge as not just one of Penn State's leaders on defense, but one of the best defensive ends in the Big Ten. He has the speed and tenacity to become an elite pass rusher, and seems destined for a breakout year with double digit sacks.
So what say you, BSD reader? Who will be the MVP of Penn State's defense in 2016?