December 9, 2011
On the eve of crowning the next Heisman Trophy winner this NCAA football season, I know only one thought is crossing your mind: Who would Junior pick as his Heisman winner. It is for that very reason that I have decided to rank my Top 5 Heisman Candidates as though I had a vote, which I most certainly do not. My 5 candidates come from 4 different conferences, making it difficult to compare head-to-head, but that’s what makes it fun. We start with #5:
#5 Robert Griffin III
This might be shocking to a lot of people, as many consider him to be at least in the Top 3of their Heisman candidates. However, while I am not going to pretend I watched every Baylor game, in the games I did watch I was only really impressed with him against Oklahoma, who gave him a lot of help in that game. Regardless, there is no arguing that RG3 had an amazing season, and prior to the season had someone told me a Baylor player would be in my Top 5 I would have laughed. No player had a better passer rating than RG3, who only threw 6 INT all season long. No doubt he deserves to have his name on this list, but I don’t see him any higher than 5. The best part for RG3 is I think he is a player that will only continue to get better on Sundays.
#4 Montee Ball
No one had more yards rushing this season than Montee Ball, who played a huge role in Wisconsin winning the Big Ten this year. Add to that his 32 rushing touchdowns (also tops) and you can see the impact that Montee Ball had for Wisconsin. My 2nd ranked running back on my Heisman list, Ball benefitted from a solid passing attack and also playing in the Big Ten. While he played great in games against ranked opponents, I can’t overlook that both of his 200+ yard games came against Purdue and Illinois. Montee Ball had an impressive season, and was no doubt the best back in the Big Ten this year, but I can’t give him the top spot in the NCAA.
#3 Tyrann Mathieu
On an LSU team that is stacked with talent on defense, one player sticks out above the rest. Nicknamed the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu was the most feared defender in the SEC this year, and would have been in any conference. Even though teams tried to avoid him, he found ways to make plays and help launch LSU to 12-0 and a shot at the National Championship. When he wasn’t terrorizing teams on defense, he was returning punts for touchdowns and helping put points on the board for LSU. His stats (6 Forced Fumbles, 4 Fumble Returns (2TD), 2 INT, 1.5 Sacks, 6.5 TFL, etc.) make him the first legitimate defensive candidate for the Heisman since Charles Woodson. While there is little chance he will come away with the Heisman, he deserves the honor of being mentioned with these players. His impact on the best team in the nation was that large.
#2 Trent Richardson
Trent Richardson proved time and again that even though teams game planned to stop him, it was easier said than done. While his stats don’t jump out at you as much as Montee Ball’s, he played in the SEC and on a team with a struggling passing game. The big reason I put Richardson above Ball for the Heisman Trophy is because if you put Ball on Alabama and Richardson on Wisconsin, I think the Badgers are going to the National Championship. Richardson was the Alabama offense this year and proved to everyone he was a workhorse. How fitting would it be for Richardson to win the Heisman after backing up former Heisman winner Mark Ingram? While he isn’t my pick, I wouldn’t have any complaints if he did win it.
#1 Andrew Luck
I thought it was a terrible idea for Andrew Luck to come back to college last year. He had an amazing college season, won the Orange Bowl, Jim Harbaugh was leaving for the NFL, and he was the undoubted #1 Pick in the NFL Draft. So what did he do? Come back and prove me wrong. Andrew Luck had more pressure on him this year than anyone else in college football. Under a new head coach, he led his team to an 11-1 record and back to a BCS bowl. Barring losing to a very good Oregon team, Andrew Luck would be playing for a National Championship this season. Take Andrew Luck off of this Stanford team and I would be surprised if they make a bowl game at all. I thought Andrew Luck would only fail by coming back this season, yet he found a way to succeed and I am more impressed by that than anything the other players did this year. If I had a vote, he would be my Heisman Trophy winner.