UCLA Football: Jim Mora Thinks Anthony Barr Deserves Heisman Hype, But Does He?

If you're one of those jackwagons that reads titles and opening sentences before reading the entire post, then let me answer the question posed in said title for your low-attention-span butt: Yes, of course UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr deserves preseason Heisman consideration.

Coming off a wildly successful 2012 season, UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr has received considerable hype ever since he announced his return to Westwood.

That hype has been manifested in preseason Heisman consideration, a result of national writers everywhere taking notice of the relatively-unknown running back-turned-linebacker.

But perhaps the biggest endorsement we've heard so far is from UCLA head coach Jim Mora, who fawned over Barr in his post-practice presser on Thursday morning.

"I think his goal should be to win the Heisman," said Mora. "If you're going to talk about a guy like (Manti) Te'o, then you should be talking about a guy like Anthony Barr."

Mora's right, though, because while he didn't receive such consideration last year, he was second in the nation in sacks, sitting behind only Jarvis Jones of Georgia.

But with such a ringing endorsement, does that mean Barr's Heisman campaign has officially begun?

"Absolutely," Jim Mora said on Thursday. "And UCLA should promote him."

The barrier here is obvious: Defensive players don't win Heisman awards, and it's a stain on college football's most prestigious distinction. It forces writers all across the nation to make comparisons between defensive and offensive players and, in the end, touchdowns always win.

That isn't the only thing stopping Barr's Heisman campaign. In his way stands a beast much similar to Barr and, according to many, perhaps superior.

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney earned All-America honors last year and took home the Hendricks Award (rewarded to the best defensive end in the country) due to his play. Sitting at half-a-sack behind Barr, many project Clowney has the best shot to win the Heisman Trophy as a defense-only player.

Of course, Jim Mora had something to say about that, too.

"I know there's that Clowney kid," Mora began, "and he's a darn good football player, but I'd put Anthony Barr up against any defensive player in the country."

"There's nobody I'd trade him for."

Statistically, Barr actually had a slightly superior season to Clowney and he's also got a year on the South Carolina Gamecock. All this, and Barr is still learning the position (Mora called Barr a "neophyte" in regards to his time at linebacker). It's only fair to assume that this year might be exponentially better for Barr, although admittedly, these are just projections.

Still, while SEC stars will get more attention than West Coast juggernauts — which explains why Clowney is more visible among the national media — Barr will also be playing more potent offenses in the Pac-12. This, too, should add to his Heisman candidacty (though that's a pipe-dream for Pac-12 fans everywhere).

The ceiling is pretty high for Barr, and he'll be the player to watch this upcoming season. With health, some luck and perhaps a couple of weeks in San Bernardino, UCLA fans would find that they wouldn't want to trade him for anybody either.