The MAC is an offensive league, first and foremost. But throughout the years some excellent defensive lineman have popped up around the conference, like the one whom this award is named after. These are the Top 5 players currently in the running for our award for the best defensive lineman in the conference, the Bronze Babin.
1. Roosevelt Nix (Kent State) — Nix's resume speaks for itself. Not only is he one of the most productive defensive lineman currently in the NCAA, he's pound-for-pound and inch-for-inch one of the best. Coming off a junior season where he achieved his third-straight First Team All-MAC selection, the 5-foot-11, 260 pound nightmare. The first, and only freshman to win the MAC's Defensive Player of The Year Award is the current favorite for the Bronze Babin.
2. Jonathan Newsome (Ball State) — This former Ohio State Buckeye is the MAC's finished fourth in the MAC with 8.5 sacks last season, and the returning leader. In one season in Muncie, Ind. he turned out a second-team All-MAC performance, and that was with guys like Nix and former Bowling Green defensive tackle Chris Jones as competition. Newsome is a quick end with a nose for the quarterback. Expect a repeat of last season's performance, or better.
3. Colby Way (Buffalo) — Way has the size of a traditional BCS type D-lineman, which allows him to not only push around offensive lines, but also do things like snag interceptions at the line of scrimmage. Matt Schilz knows all about that. He's a stud up front. Coming off a highly underrated junior season where he culminated 58 tackles and seven sacks, expect him to make some serious noise this season.
4. Nathan Ollie (Ball State) — Ball State's second player on this list is more of a traditional run stuffer. Ollie is a tackle with good size at 295 pounds. He uses his strength and ability to clog running holes to rack up tackles, he has 106 in three seasons in Muncie, Ind.. A Third Team All-MAC selection in 2012, he's back for a final season of terrorizing opposing offenses.
5. Joe Windsor (Northern Illinois) — Despite playing behind two 2012 First Team All-MAC selections in Alan Baxter and Sean Progar, Windsor managed one of the finer seasons from a MAC defensive lineman last season. Now with both Baxter and Progar gown, Windsor will have an increased role, and more opportunities to improve upon his seven sacks from 2012.
Will any of the players suffer a down year? Is there someone you feel is missing from this early watch list? Which defensive lineman will outshine the rest in 2013? Let us know below.