Written By: Roy Countryman @Blitzalytics
With only two weeks remaining from conference championship games, we are quickly approaching the end of the regular season portion of the college schedule. That puts into perspective which of our Lott IMPACT candidates have a shot at taking home the end-of-year award, but we are not finished yet and will be still awarding weekly winners.
This week’s winner of the Lott IMPACT trophy weekly award is the rangy linebacker from Utah, Chase Hansen.
Hansen was a key cog in helping his Utah Utes defeat Oregon, 32-25. He accumulated 13 tackles with 3.5 of them going for a loss. That added to his season total of tackles for loss and puts him at 19, which places him in a tie for second most in the nation. Hansen is a converted safety that plays with a hard-hitting demeanor, and the coverage ability to flourish in combats with the high flying offenses of college football. He is a terrific open-field tackler who possesses good speed to cover plays sideline-to-sideline. Coupled with his great hip fluidity for a linebacker, Hansen has the tools to cover big-bodied tight ends and speedy running backs out in the flat. With great instincts, he can read a play developing and will show an outstanding ability to elude or shed oncoming blockers. A true three-down defender that can influence a game in both pass and run defense, Hansen truly resembles the meaning of IMPACT as the team leader in Utah, and should get a large number of looks in the upcoming draft process. He bears a striking likeness to the new era linebacker of the NFL.
Hansen was not the only standout performer in last week’s games. Here’s some of his toughest competition for the award:
Deshaun Davis, LB: Auburn
Even though his team came up short this week against Georgia, Davis put up some staggering stats, accruing 10 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and pitching in a sack. Davis is an undersized inside linebacker, who has tremendous instincts, play recognition, closing quickness, excellent tackling mechanics, and tackles with a nasty disposition. Due to his intelligence, he is like having a defensive coordinator in the huddle. Not only is he a contributor on the field, but he takes great effort to make an impact off of it as well.
Joe Dineen Jr., LB: Kansas
The always productive Dineen Jr. put up some very strong numbers as well, even though his efforts were for naught in the win column. In a heartbreaking loss to Kansas State, he produced 9 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and a sack. Dineen is the embodiment of a cerebral middle linebacker who is a true force in run defense. He has terrific play recognition and the instincts to flow to the ball quickly, along with enough speed to cover plays sideline-to-sideline. He uses his instincts to gain enough depth in his coverage drops that he becomes a pain for quarterbacks’ throwing lanes. With terrific tackling mechanics, the linebacker doesn’t let runners out of his grasp. He possesses a booming voice and takes great pride getting his teammates in the right spots to succeed.
Jordan Kunaszyk, LB: California
Kunaszyk helped his Cal Bears to a big-time victory over USC, and he put up strong numbers in the process: 11 tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Kunaszyk possesses a throwback style for a linebacker in terms of skill set. He is at his best when he sees the play develop and flies downfield. Do not discount his athleticism though, as he has enough speed to reach the far hashes in run defense, and he trusts that his eyes will bring him into the position to make the tackle. Indeed, he has a consistent striking ability that rarely allows ball carriers to elude him. Kunaszyk is also an effective inside blitzer with the ability to time in order to shoot the gap. With a steady set of hands, he often will come down with an interception when given the opportunity.
As always, we would like to congratulate Utah’s Chase Hansen for winning this week’s award, as well as the other candidates that were in consideration. Best of luck to those playing in Week 12 collegiate contests.