When the college football season started, a lot of the world assumed the Heisman trophy was USC’s Matt Barkley‘s to lose (which of course he did). After Barkley, Geno Smith appeared to be the man in charge (until he wasn’t). Then it became Collin Klein‘s award to lose (which thanks to a shocking performance by a poor Baylor defense he probably has).
The Heisman trophy and who is expected to win it is something that is followed almost as closely as who the contestants for the national title will be. We are talking about designating a single player as the best player in college football for the last season; everyone wants to be able to say they called it way back in [insert arbitrary date here].
Predicting the winner this year is easier said than done. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel is considered the favorite to win the award becoming the first freshman in the 78 year history of the Heisman to do so. However, he will have some pretty stiff competition from Kansas State’s Klein and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.
Collin “Optimus” Klein
Even with his poor game against Baylor, Collin Klein has the Kansas State Wildcats in a BCS game and won a Big 12 title. Klein has been the picture of consistency for the majority of the season with solid numbers in both the running (194 carries for 890 yards, 22 touchdowns) and passing game (184-272 for 2,490 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions).
Klein could be seen as the perfect marriage between a ‘game manager’ and ‘dual threat’ quarterback; someone with the ability to get the job done in multiple ways himself, but is just as capable at bringing the best out his teammates and letting them lead the way. His play earned him the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for the top upperclassmen quarterback.
Then there is linebacker Manti Te’o from the No. 1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish; easily the most important player on the best team in the nation. His story alone is one that will become the thing of legend. He could have easily faltered and fallen by the wayside after the death of his girlfriend and grandmother. Instead he helped lead the Fighting Irish defense through a tough schedule to an undefeated season, the first No. 1 ranking for the proud franchise since 1993, and berth in the national title game.
Statistically he had a solid season with 103 tackles (52 of them solo), seven interceptions, one fumble recovery, one sack, and four pass break ups. The quality of his performance on the field has already been recognized by several major awards. Te’o has been named the Maxwell Award winner (most outstanding player in nation), Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Walter Camp Player of the Year (most outstanding player), Lombardi Award (top lineman or linebacker), Nagurski Award (top defensive player), and Butkus Award (top linebacker).
Johnny “Football” Manziel
They will both be hard pressed to beat one of the most dynamic freshman in years in Texas A&m’s Johnny Manziel. The red shirt freshman was not on anyone’s radar at the start of the season, largely because he wasn’t even considered a lock to start till late in the off-season. While he did show some promise in his first game, a 20-17 loss to Florida, at the time the college football world still had no idea what the young man from Kerrville, Texas, had to offer.
In the weeks following the opening season loss Manziel quickly developed a reputation as one of the most dynamic players in college football. Equally as dangerous a passer (273-400 for 3,419 yards, 24 touchdowns, eight interceptions) as a runner (184 carries for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns) defenses were hard pressed with figuring out the best way to defend him since he could just as easily beat you doing one as the other.
His talents helped lead the way to a very successful first year in the SEC for Texas A&M and a highly decorated one for him. He has already been named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year along with the Davey O’Brien Award (for the most outstanding quarterback).