In seasons past the MAC has produced some very quality defensive NFL standouts including Jason Taylor from Akron, James Harrison from Kent State and Khalil Mack from Buffalo. This season it seems as though the MAC has been defense heavy so here I highlight three defensive names you might need to get used to hearing at the next level.
Darius Phillips DB/KR/PR Western Michigan
Darius Phillips (above) is a dynamic and multitalented played for Western Michigan. Phillips came into the season as mainly a return man and one that was preseason All-MAC at kick and punt returning. However Phillips has came into his own as a defender. Phillips allows on average just 0.43 yards per snap when in coverage. Before the season, Darius was also on the watchlist for the Paul Hornung Award which goes to the Most Versatile player in college football every year.
Khalil Hodge LB Buffalo
Sharing the first name as former University of Buffalo linebacker great Khalil Mack, Khalil Hodge (above) has been relatively unknown prior to this season. Hodge was mentioned on various MAC third and fourth teams prior to the season and found himself on zero watchlists for any awards in college football. It does not seem to matter to Hodge though, as he is averaging over 14 tackles per game which is good for the nation’s best. If Khalil can stay on pace, he could continue to climb draft boards and if he is fortunate enough, end up just like Khalil Mack as an NFL star and early draft pick.
Heath Harding DB Miami (OH)
Heath Harding (below and pictured) is one of the flat out most talented defensive players in all of college football this year. Harding was on not one, but three award watchlists before the season. He was mentioned for the Chuck Bednarik Award which goes to the defensive player in college football each year, the Bronko Nagurski Award which also goes to the top defensive player and lastly the Jim Thorpe Award which is given to the nation’s best defensive back. Heath Harding has been a mainstay for the Miami defense and continues to climb the program’s record books in many defensive statistics. If Harding can end the season hot and take that momentum into the combine and draft, he could be another early round MAC selection.
So this week when you’re watching all the quality MACtion, keep an eye for these three defensive guys. Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @N2KSports what players from the MAC you think are bound for the NFL.
Cover Photo via YouTube
Article Photos via Athlon Sports and Bulldog Nation