Heisman Watch 2012: Power Ranking the Top 3 Candidates to Walk Away with Award

Justin WeltonAnalyst IINovember 26, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates a third quarter touchdown during their game against the Missouri Tigers at Kyle Field on November 24, 2012 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Could a freshman win the Heisman Trophy for the first time? Could a defensive player win the Heisman Trophy? 

Yes and yes.

What makes the 2012 Heisman race so spectacular is that there is no clear No. 1 guy who stands above everyone else, leaving the door open for something spectacular to happen like a defensive player or freshman winning it.

Let's take a deeper look into the three most legitimate Heisman candidates.


Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Why can't a freshman win it? There is no rule saying it can't be done, but just because it has never been done people jump to the conclusion that it's impossible?

If any freshman has the numbers and mystique around him it's Johnny Manziel or Johnny Football to most people.

Manziel is the leading candidate to win the Heisman with his astounding freshman numbers—3,419 yards passing, 24 passing touchdowns, 1,181 yards rushing and 19 rushing touchdowns.

Those numbers combined: 4.600 yards and 43 touchdowns.

He led his team into Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa to knock off the No. 1 team in the country, Alabama. 

There is nothing this kid can't do and he's been proving it all season long.

Manziel is a special talent with a mystique surrounding him. We hear people call him Johnny Football because he fits the bill. 

To put it simply: We are watching greatness exemplified. 


Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB

Why can't a defensive player win it this year? Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has been the driving force for the Notre Dame defense, and the season he is having is astounding.

Not only does he lead Notre Dame with his off the field prowls, but his ability to bring it game after game with the same intensity level inspires his teammates to do the same.

Not to mention the numbers: 101 tackles, seven interceptions and four passes defended. 

Manti Te'o is the real deal at linebacker and his accomplishments this season on a team that will play in the BCS Championship game speaks volumes to what he brings to the table.

In a season with no real clear-cut No. 1, Manti Te'o has a chance to win the Heisman as a defensive player. 


Collin Klein, Kansas State, QB

If you take away Collin Klein's dreadful performance against Baylor where he threw three interceptions, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein could easily be on top of the Heisman list. 

But he isn't and for good reason. 

Klein only has 14 passing touchdowns this season compared to six interceptions. Those three picks look terrible now with his previous numbers.

Klein has always been a rushing type of quarterback and his 20 touchdowns on the ground is another reason why I have him third on my list. But his total quarterback numbers don't compare to some of the better quarterbacks in the country. 

His chances went dim when he struggled at Baylor. 


Prediction: Johnny Manziel

Statistics, team performance, how he played in big games and the overall "wow" factor has Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman in my estimation.

To win the Heisman Trophy you must be considered the best football player in the country. Right now, there is nobody better than Johnny Football.