Quinnen Williams is one of those team-first guys. Ask him a question about his personal success and it always deflects back to his teammates.
The Heisman Trophy? That’s different.
Alabama’s breakout star on the defensive line received momentary chatter about receiving votes for college football’s top individual prize. Williams leaned back in his chair with a big smile when asked Wednesday in Atlanta if he thought he should be up for the Heisman.
“I feel like I should have been up there but it’s cool,” Williams said with a grin. “It’s fun, man. I look up to Ndamukong Suh and I remember Ndamukong Suh went to the Heisman so I was like ‘Man, it would be cool to go to the Heisman like Ndamukong Suh.’”
Suh finished fourth in the 2009 voting with 815 points behind Alabama’s first winner, Mark Ingram who had 1,304. Jadeveon Clowney finished sixth in 2012. Three defensive linemen finished second with Hugh Green of Pittsburgh the most recent in 1980.
Williams is one of four Alabama players up for honors Thursday night at the College Football Awards Show. He’s a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the nation’s top defensive player and the Outland Trophy for the best interior lineman.
All three finalists invited to New York for the Heisman are quarterbacks including Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.
“Yeah, it’s too much of a quarterback award,” Williams said, still smiling. “It’s too much of an award, like the Heisman Award only goes to a person that touches the ball. Like if I get a whole bunch of sacks, I’m not getting the Heisman Award. I feel like whoever touches the ball the most is the Heisman winner and I feel like that’s not really fair, for real.
“I feel like we should have offensive linemen who should win the Heisman. There are tight ends who should win the Heisman. D-linemen and defensive backs who should win the Heisman. It’s definitely a quarterback-dominant award.”
Some defensive linemen, however, get their hands on the ball. Just last season, Da’Ron Payne caught a touchdown pass in a goal-line package against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins has two rushing touchdowns this season and caught another two seasons ago.
“That’s my dog,” Williams said. “I met Christian Wilkins at the Nagurski Award and he got his hands on the ball a lot.”
By Saturday night, Williams will have an eye not as much on the ceremony but the information that’s released after the fact.
“If I get some votes,” he said, “I’m going to be happy just to get a vote.”