Heisman Race 2012: Breaking Down What's Holding Back Each Top Contender

Tim KeeneyContributor IDecember 2, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs upfield 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

Nobody's perfect.

Johnny Manziel, Manti Te'o and Collin Klein would be the three players who have come closest to proving me wrong on that, but even the top three candidates for this year's Heisman—although Braxton Miller and Marqise Lee might have something to say about that—have weaknesses. 

As a result, we could be headed for one of the closest races in recent memory.

Let's take a look at what exactly is holding back each of the leaders in the Heisman race. 



Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

God forbid a freshman wins the Heisman. 

Johnny Football, as the kids like to call to him, has been downright ridiculous in his first season under the tutelage of Kevin Sumlin.

The numbers speak for themselves (SEC ranks in parenthesis):

He's completed 68.2 percent of his passes (first) for 3,419 yards (second). He's thrown for 24 touchdowns (fourth) and just eight interceptions. His passer rating is 155.8 (fourth). He's also gained 1,181 yards (first. FIRST!) on the ground for another 19 touchdowns (first).

But not only has he been unstoppable in terms of statistics, the youngster has led Texas A&M, which finished 7-6 last year, to a 10-2 record in its first season in the SEC. Most importantly and most memorably, he helped defeat Alabama, which no one in, like, forever, has done.

He's the story of the year.

But it wouldn't be surprising if old-fashioned voters went a different direction with their selection. No freshman has ever won this award. People don't necessarily like change, and Manziel would represent just that. 

Others will also argue that that Mr. Football's two worst games of the season came in two losses against Florida and LSU, meaning he's crumbled in big games. Although it's safe to say the Crimson Tide wouldn't agree with that. 



Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

This one's easy. Te'o's a linebacker and his value doesn't completely show up on the stat sheet, although that's not to say his overall numbers aren't impressive.

The fact that the talented senior linebacker has seven interceptions, which ranks second in the nation among all players, is just a little bit crazy. But most people will be disappointed to see he doesn't lead the country—or even the Independents—in tackles and has just 1.5 sacks.

A linebacker has never won this award, so the common notion will be that he has to have jaw-dropping numbers to even be considered. 

But Te'o is so much more than the numbers. He's Notre Dame's leader on and off the field. He's the quarterback of a defense that ranks in the top five in the country. He's one of the main reasons why the Irish are ranked No. 1.

His value transcends the stat sheet.

Nevertheless, there's concern that not all voters will see that. 



Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

Klein is a dual-threat quarterback, and as such, his numbers will undoubtedly—and in most cases, unfairly—get put side by side with Johnny Manziel's.

That's going to hurt him. 

He has almost 1,000 less passing yards, nine less passing touchdowns and almost 200 less rushing yards. He does have three more rushing touchdowns, but that likely won't be enough to make up the difference.

Throw in the fact that the Big 12 is seen as a much softer defensive conference than the SEC and Klein's poor performance against Baylor in K-State's only loss is fresh on the minds of voters, and he could be in trouble.

Still, while Klein's stats don't blow you away, he's a unique, dominant player who has taken the Wildcats to new heights.