Michigan State Football: Top 3 Heisman candidates for 2015

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Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) celebrates his sack of Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (not pictured) in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Bears 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Coming out of high school in New Jersey in 2011, Shilique Calhoun wasn’t highly-regarded in the least. Actually, people looked at the 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end as just another average end who will make a solid role player at the position and never really break out.

Boy, were those critics ever wrong.

Nov 29, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) during the fourth quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Michigan State defeated Penn State 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Calhoun, now a senior who has bulked up considerably for the Spartans, has been talked about as a possible top-15 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and maybe even the first defensive lineman to be selected in the process.

Although he had a bit of a letdown season in 2014 because of constant double-teams, Calhoun caused enough havoc to be considered a Ted Hendricks Award finalist — the award for best defensive end in the nation. If he continues to develop at the pace he did between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Calhoun could win the defensive player of the year award or maybe even contend for a Heisman.

The last defensive lineman that was in Heisman consideration for nearly the entire season was South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney a couple years ago.

While it is very unlikely to see a defensive player, yet alone a defensive end, win the Heisman Trophy, Calhoun is the Spartans’ second-best candidate to win the coveted award and he has the potential to be talked about among the nation’s best players on this side of the ball — or on any side of the ball, for that matter.

Even if he doesn’t enter the Heisman talks, he will be in Chuck Bednarik (Defensive Player of the Year Award) and Ted Henricks conversations.

Next: 1. Connor Cook, QB