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San Diego State Football staff predictions: Defensive Player of the Year

The front six of Rocky Long's 3-3-5 defense appears to be loaded, but who will bring home the bacon?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

So here's the defensive situation for San Diego State: last year's 21st-ranked run defense appears to have gotten even better this year, and last year's 93rd-ranked pass defense appears to have gotten a little worse with the loss of two big-time safeties in Nat Berhe and Eric Pinkins.

Aztec fans have been hit with some bad news defensively, though, in the last couple weeks: redshirt junior linebacker Jake Fely won't be ready until Week Six and senior linebacker Josh Gavert not set to return from his injury until Week Four.

New names have a chance to step up in the veterans' absence, names like redshirt-freshman Fred Melifonwu. Melifonwu has had a great offseason and will most likely start Week One as SDSU's strong-side linebacker.

So will SDSU's Defensive Player of the Year be a potential-new star like Melifonwu? Or will it be a veteran poised for a big year like senior cornerback J.J. Whittaker? Here's what our SDSU staff thinks.

1. CB J.J. Whittaker - 5 votes

2. LB Jake Fely - 3 votes

3. LB Derek Largent - 1 vote

And here's who voted for each player.

Matthew Bain J.J. Whittaker
Patrick Carr Jake Fely
Matt Hoffman J.J. Whittaker
Matthew Patterson Jake Fely
JNorwood Derek Largent
Ryan Posner Jake Fely
Rafael Avitabile J.J. Whittaker
Anthony Reclusado J.J. Whittaker
Zachary Loper J.J. Whittaker