Heisman Trophy 2012: Complete List of Finalists Announced

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 3, 2012

And then there were three. 

After a year-long debate about college football's best player that has gone from favoring Matt Barkley to Geno Smith to Collin Klein and now to Johnny Manziel, we can finally start narrowing the Heisman discussion down.

On Monday afternoon, ESPN officially revealed the three players who will be heading to New York next week:

Player Position School Year
Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M Freshman
Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame Senior
Collin Klein QB Kansas State Senior

The three gentlemen, who make up a smaller final class than usual, will dress in their finest threads and be a part of the famous ceremony for the sport's most sought-after award, and as such, the decision will be much tougher to call. 

Manziel is the favorite. In arguably the most impressive freshman season in the history of college football, aptly named Johnny Football has run through and thrown over most opponents, leading his Texas A&M Aggies to a 10-2 record in their first year in the SEC. 

In his quest to be the first-ever freshman to win the Heisman award, it was Manziel's epic performance in TAMU's monumental upset win over then-No. 1 Alabama that likely sealed the deal. 

But while Manziel is the story of the year and represents something we probably won't see for a long time, don't go counting out Notre Dame's Manti Te'o or Kansas State's Collin Klein.

Te'o, who is set to secure the highest Heisman finish for a pure defensive player in recent memory, has done it all for Notre Dame en route to leading the Irish to a 12-0 record, a No. 1 ranking and a No. 1 defense in terms of points per game allowed. 

Klein has slowly fallen off the radar, but it will be hard to dismiss his unbelievable dual-threat ability (as a quarterback, he's second in the nation in rushing touchdowns) and command of a team that was one upset-loss away from appearing in the BCS National Championship Game. 

The last two Heisman winners, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, have gone on to have immediate, positive impacts in the NFL. Come Dec. 8, we'll finally know which of these three men will have the task of following in their giant footsteps.