College Football: Who Will Win The Heisman Trophy?
On Monday, the three Heisman Trophy finalists were announced. The finalists are: fifth year senior quarterback Collin Klein from Kansas State, senior linebacker Manti Te’o from the number one team in the nation Notre Dame and freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M. All three have had an impressive year, but only one can emerge as the Heisman Trophy winner. Lets take a look at each player.
Known as “Optimus Klein” the fifth year senior led the Wildcats to the second Big 12 title in school history and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. This past season he accounted for 37 total touchdowns (22 rushing/15 passing) and gained 3,380 total yards. With those stats and his stats from last year, Klein became the first quarterback in the BCS era to run for at least 20 TDs and throw for 10 in back-to-back seasons. The only players to have done it even once won the Heisman Trophy: Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010, Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007 and Eric Crouch of Nebraska in 2000. History is on Klein’s side.
Yes, I know, I know. “Defensive players never win the Heisman”. You know how many times I’ve heard that line? 1,000’s and so has Manti Te’o, but the 21-year-old senior has a legitimate shot. He led the Fighting Irish to an undefeated season and the National Championship game, where they will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. His stats were off the charts as well. 103 tackles, seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries are truly amazing stats. Unlike Klein, history is not on his side. Charles Woodson was the last defensive player to win the Heisman in 1997. However, Woodson was a great punt returner as well. The key factor is the college Te’o plays for. Notre Dame has had a record-tying seven Heisman Trophy winners. Tim Brown (1987), John Huarte (1964), Paul Hornung (1956), Johnny Lattner (1953), Leon Hart (1949), Johnny Lujack (1947) and Angelo Bertelli (1943). Could Te’o make it eight?
Also known as Johnny Football, Manziel made so many clutch plays during the year for Texas A&M. His Heisman stock was at an all-time high when he defeated the former number one ranked team in the nation Alabama. It stayed there and rightfully so. His freshman season was a phenomenal one in which he totaled 4,600 yards of offense to break the Southeastern Conference record. Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns. Manziel also led Texas A&M to a 10-2 record in their SEC debut, the school’s first 10-win season since 1998. He will be trying to make history this Saturday. If he wins the Heisman he will be the first ever freshman to win it. He is currently the favorite according to Las Vegas to win the Heisman.
All three players had a tremendous season with their respective team. Each deserves all the credit they have gotten to this point. In the end, if I was part of the Heisman committee my vote would go to Johnny Manziel to win the Heisman. Second would be Manti Te’o, followed by Collin Klein. I’m not trying to take anything away from Te’o and Klein. They are two spectacular athletes, but both are also seniors. They have experience. They’ve played the game of college football for a while now. At the age of 19, Manziel pulled off a stunner by beating Alabama, broke a SEC record and led his team to ten wins in the hardest conference in all of college football. All of these accolades were accomplished in his first year. You can’t deny the Heisman Trophy to a freshman that dominated at such a high level.
Photo Courtesy: Dallas Morning News