It’s that time of year again: the announcing of the candidates for the Heisman Trophy. For those who don’t know what the Hesiman Trophy, let me tell you. According to the Heisman Trophy website, “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”
Three football players were named finalists for this year’s award. Johnny Manziel, Manti Te’o, and Collin Klein.
Quarterback Johnny Manziel for the Texas A&M Aggies jumped into the spotlight quickly. As a redshirt freshman, Johnny “Football” Manziel led his Aggie team in its first year in the SEC, to an overall 10-2 record, 6-2 conference record and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl. He collected 3,419 yards, 24 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a completion rate of 68.3%. Some argue his most successful feat of the season was not his statistics, but the beating of the number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, AL. He is one of two freshmen to be named to the All-SEC Team this year. He finished this season third in the FBS in total offense. He also won the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top quarterback.
Linebacker Manti Te’o of the Notre Dame Irish has been dubbed by many the best defensive player in the nation this year. He has lead the Irish to an undefeated season his senior season, and an appearance to the BCS National Championship game. He has 103 tackles on the season (52 solo), 5.5 tackles for a loss, 7 interceptions, and 1.5 sacks. The last defensive player to win the Heisman was Charles Woodson in 1997. Woodson’s edge though, was the fact that he was also a key component on offense and special teams. Te’o is a purely defensive player, and while it’s not rare for a defensive player to be a finalist, it is rare for them to win the award. Te’o’s edge is that many Heisman voters have said they do not want the award to go to a freshman (Manziel). Te’o has already received multiple awards this season: the Butkus Award for best linebacker, the Nagurski Award for best defensive player, and the Walter Camp Award for player of the year.
And then there is Collin Klein, quarterback for the Kansas State Wildcats. In his senior season, Klein went for 2,490 yards, 15 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and had a 66.2% completion rate. He lead his team to a 11-1 season, and the Big 12 title. Klein was named CBSsports.com Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. He will play his final game as a Wildcat in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon.
Looking at each of these players profiles, you can definitely say the winner of this year’s Heisman Trophy will be deserving. Will it go to Johnny Football, a freshman who put up record numbers, Manti Te’o, a defensive player who lead his team to the BCS National Championship and undefeated season, or Collin Klein, a senior quarterback who lead his team to the Big 12 title? We will just have to wait and see.