In the mid-1960s Bob Rowe was defense in the MAC. The Western Michigan defensive end took home the MAC's first ever Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1965, then repeated in 1966 before going 43rd overall to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1967 NFL Draft.
While the MAC has produced numerous defensive talents who were equal to, or better than Rowe in the decades following his final plays as a Bronco, there's something about being the originator, and that's why we named our fan's choice Defensive Player of the year Award after Rowe. In 2013 Khalil Mack took home the honor, but with him off in Oakland, there's zero chance we get a repeat winner.
Who is most likely to take home the honor this winter? We like these five players a lot:
We already ran down this WMU senior cornerback's accomplishments in out Martin Bayless Award watch list, so here's the 30 second version: In 2013 Celiscar totaled 60 tackles, 12 passes defended and three interceptions, earning Second Team All-MAC honors. The two years before Celiscar had a combined for 124 tackles, three interceptions and 19 pass break ups.
A 2013 First Team all-MAC performer, Jamaal Bass was also featured on our Lambert Linebacking Award Watch List. In 2013 he had 87 tackles, six for loss, and two forced fumbles. Bass is physical and athletic, and with Jimmie Ward gone, he'll likely be the star of the Huskies' defensive unit this fall.
This Akron junior is one of the more promising defensive players in the MAC. A fellow Lambert Linebacking Award watch list member, Brown earned First Team All-MAC honors in his full first season as a starter with 107 tackles, 6.5 for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He also earned the Zips' team defensive MVP award. fast, agile and with a nose for the ball carrier, Brown's upside is huge.
Another player on our Lambert Linebacking Award, Sylvestre also burst onto the scene in 2013. In his first full year as a starter, Sylvestre, a junior last fall, recorded 118 tackles, 9.5 for loss, five sacks and earned First Team All-MAC honors. Some view A former safety, Sylvestre possesses amazing athletic ability for a linebacker, including an unusual mix of strength and speed. Playing inside again this fall, Sylvestre is sure to rack up huge numbers for the Rockets.
Sylvestre's teammate, and the anchor of Toledo's defensive line, Treyvon Hester, joins him on this watch list. A Bronze Babin watch list member, Hester is only a redshirt sophomore, but is already among the best at his position in the MAC. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle is a force, and earned Third Team All-MAC honors in 2013 with 39 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. Hester is the centerpiece of the Rockets' line this fall, and could give MAC quarterbacks nightmares.