This year’s Heisman Trophy sweepstakes hasn’t been as exciting as in previous years. Last year, Robert Griffin III was the runaway candidate despite being pushed by the likes of Andrew Luck. And after his first NFL season, RGIII certainly looks like he deserved the award he copped at the Downtown Athletic Club last December.
That brings us to the current college football season. A season, which saw the rightful return of Notre Dame to the top of the polls, the continued dominance of the SEC, and even a BCS party crasher in Northern Illinois. It’s been one of the best college football seasons to date so perhaps that’s why choosing the one player that stands above all others has been so difficult.
Yesterday, it was announced three finalists for the Heisman had been selected: freshman sensation Johnny “Football” Manziel from Texas A&M, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Of the three, only one player in my book stands out as the best in the country and the player who had the most impact on their team: Colin Klein.
Being a rabid Notre Dame fan myself, it’s hard to say as I’d love to see a Domer back with the Heisman Trophy. Te’o is a great player and his story over perseverance after the death of his grandmother and girlfriend are the stuff of Hollywood movies. He deserves to be in New York but we all know how the votes feel about defensive players: they just don’t vote for them. There have been better defensive players than Te’o that didn’t win the Heisman so I don’t think that will change.
Then there’s Johnny Football. Manziel is an amazing football player who electrified college football with his shootout with 2012 BCS Champs Alabama. That game, and a few others captured the attention of fans, writers and prognosticators throughout the nation. There’s no doubt he’s a great QB who will only get better. But as a freshman – no freshman has ever won the Heisman – I don’t think Manziel deserves it. First, he had a handful of bad or subpar games. Yes, he’s now playing in the SEC but several of those games he significantly hurt his team. No matter what he did on national TV against the mighty Alabama, Manziel is still young and will be a top college quarterback for the next three years. In my view, he doesn’t deserve the trophy for those reasons. I also believe the writers, even though many are enamored, won’t muster enough votes for Manziel.
That leaves Klein from Kansas State. Yes, the Big 12 is not the SEC. No matter as Klein has elevated his program and his team to a one-time #1 ranking and has been the
most consistent and impactful player of the three who will make the trip to New York.
You’ll read a dozen or so statistical breakdowns of the top three candidates so I’ll spare you that exercise here. What Klein did at Kansas State is remarkable and his past few years will be a resume builder for why he should be voted this year’s best college football player.
Klein is Tim Tebow but with more talent and ability. He’s not a circus sideshow. He’s got size, a great arm (albeit under utilized at K-State) and great speed. He accounted for 37 scores this year and 22 have been via running the ball – the most for any quarterback this year and second to all players this season. Klein became just the fourth quarterback from a BCS school in the BCS era to rush for 20 touchdowns and throw for at least 10, joining Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, and Erich Crouch. I believe he will be a good NFL quarterback and a sleeper in this year’s draft.
To me, the choice is simple. Although you can’t vote on previous seasons, it’s clear that Klein has been consistent in his career, and sans one awful game against Baylor, he’s been the model of consistency. If this was another year where an offensive player had not had a bad game, Klein would be on the outside looking in. But he’s not and this is a thin year.
While everyone focuses on Manziel and Te’o, Klein will win the Heisman Trophy and the honor will be well deserved.