Tonight one player will reach college football immortality as the winner of the Heisman Trophy is announced. While I usually don’t write about college football, this is one of the closest Heisman calls in recent memory as there is no clear cut favorite to win this year’s award. However, with 145 votes in each of the six regions in the country, all of the first place votes are scattered and it is very possible somebody who you would least expect could sneak up and win the award.
The reason why this could be one of the closest races ever is due to the fact that every player that is attending the ceremony in New York is from a different region.
Starting out West you have Stanford running back Toby Gerhart who was the face of a Cardinal team that ended the year ranked and beat both Oregon and USC. Gerhart also was the recipient of the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back running for 1736 yards along with 26 touchdowns on the season. Gerhart should receive the majority of the 1st place votes out west but considering the time Stanford usually plays (10 PM EST) and the fact he didn’t get much face time until a few weeks ago, it should be interesting to see how he fairs.
The Southwest region has Texas quarterback Colt McCoy who led Texas to an undefeated season and a showdown against Alabama in the national title game. McCoy has received lots of accolades this season as he became the winningest quarterback in college football history. He also won the Davey O’Brien Award given out to the nation’s best quarterback along with the Maxwell Award which along with the Heisman is an award given out to the best player in the country. While McCoy doesn’t have the gaudy numbers that some candidates have, but he has been in this situation before and could receive some sympathy votes as two quarterbacks in Florida’s Tim Tebow along with Sam Bradford of the rival Oklahoma Sooners have previously beaten out McCoy for the reward.
In the Midwest region there is Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh who almost single handedly led the Corn Huskers to a win over Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Regardless of who wins the Heisman, Suh is the big winner out of all of them. Along with the multiple defensive player of the year awards he has already received, Suh is most likely going to be the first pick in next year’s NFL draft as scouts and GM’s around the league are already salivating over what he would bring to a team with his high motor and ability to beat double teams. It is very rare that a defensive player wins the Heisman but if the award is meant for the best player in the nation then there is no reason why Suh shouldn’t win.
Now in the South region is where things get interesting with both Alabama running back Mark Ingram and Tebow. Ingram was the leader of the Crimson Tide’s explosive running attack with over 1500 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also had arguably his best game of the season against Tebow and the Gators in the SEC title game running for over 100 yards and three touchdowns along with 76 receiving. While Ingram had an outstanding season, he has a few factors going against him.
With all of their history, it’s hard to believe that Alabama has never had a Heisman trophy winner. There is no doubt that voters brought this into consideration when looking at Ingram thinking “Is this really going to be the first guy?” The other thing going against Ingram is that he is a sophomore. While sophomores have won the award the last two years, their situations were different. Like Ingram, both of them led their teams to the National Championship game but there is a huge gap in statistics. In the year’s they won, Bradford threw for 50 touchdowns and Tebow accounted for 55 touchdowns. This year Ingram accounted for 18 touchdowns.
The positive for Ingram out of this is that he will be the preseason favorite for the award next year and will most likely win it as long as he stays healthy.
Even though his team lost in the conference title game, Tebow will go down as one of the greatest players in college football history. He already has won the Heisman and was the first sophomore to do so. Along with the hardware, he also has won two national championships and leaves college as the SEC record holder for career touchdowns. Even though this past season was Tebow’s worst statistically as a starter, there is an outside chance that he can become the 2nd player to ever win two Heisman’s.
In last year’s voting, Tebow led all players in 1st place votes but ended up losing the award. This year he can win the same way he lost to Bradford. With all of the 1st place votes scattered around the country and Tebow being in the top 3 in everyone’s ballot, he has a very good chance of winning the award. In a year without a clear cut winner, some could view this as giving Tebow the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award for all he has done in college football both on and off the field.
When talking about Tebow and the Heisman many people say how he won’t be a good quarterback in the NFL. While I happen to agree with those people regarding the NFL, except for Carson Palmer there isn’t a quarterback that has won in the past 20 years that has done anything on the NFL level. Some examples of this are Jason White, Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke, Danny Wuerffel, Gino Torretta and Ty Detmer. While none of them did much in the pro game, this is an award for the best player in college football and Tebow is one of the best ever in that regard.
While most people are now talking about Tebow being drafted by the Jaguars in the 1st round to boost ticket sales, him coming out of nowhere and winning his second Heisman is much more likely.