Clemson's Vic Beasley and USC's Leonard Williams, arguably the "biggest names" among the nation's defensive ends, are among the six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive end.
They were joined as finalists by Missouri's Shane Ray, Ohio State's Joey Bosa, Utah's Nate Orchard and Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha, who plays a hybrid end/linebacker position and also is a finalist for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation's top linebacker.
Kikaha leads the nation with 18 sacks. Orchard is second with 17.5, and Bosa and Ray are tied for fourth with 13.5. Beasley is tied for 10th with 11, while Williams -- who also plays some at tackle and is the best against the run of the finalists -- has six.
Bosa is a sophomore, Ray and Williams are juniors and the other three are seniors.
It seems likely that because of their size, Beasley, Kikaha and Orchard will be linebackers at the next level.
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks on Beasley: "Beasley has flashed the ability to take over the game with his speed, quickness and burst. He overwhelms offensive tackles with his 'get-off' and burst, yet it's his balance and body control that allows him to turn the corner against elite pass protectors."
Brooks on Kikaha: "Kikaha is a relentless pass rusher, but he's not just an effort player. Kikaha is very strong with his hands, which allows him to win battles. The biggest hurdle for him at the next level could be medical evaluations given his history of knee injuries. He's shown me a lot this season as far as his athletic ability, though."
Brooks on Orchard: "That he is nearing the 20-sack mark as a senior will force scouts to take a long, hard look at his skills and determine whether he can make an impact as a 3-4 rush linebacker or nickel pass rusher at the next level."
The winner will be announced Dec. 10.