Everyone has heard the praise each 2012 Heisman finalist has received. After all, the final grouping heading into New York is typically made up of four or five different contenders.
The fact that the selection committee only invited three finalists shows how much further ahead they are of their peers. Even then, there can be only one who walks away with the nation's most prestigious individual award.
How do you break down these three great athletes and decide which one deserves the honor most?
You have to look at their individual and situational weaknesses and weigh up which has less of a downside. Take a look at the biggest weaknesses of each of the three finalists.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
No freshman has ever won the Heisman Trophy. The award celebrates sustained excellence but that has never recognized the sustained performance of first-year player. Manziel red-shirted his first year at Texas A&M, so isn’t a true freshman.
Other than the freshman argument, it’s hard to find very much else wrong with Manziel’s game. Therefore, everything else that’s said should be considered nitpicking due to how well he developed and played this season.
He failed to show up in three games this season and built the majority of his resume against lesser competition. Against LSU, Florida and Ole Miss, the dynamic QB threw just one touchdown pass and was intercepted five times.
Manziel is certainly Heisman worthy, but just because he won one big game against Alabama, the rest should not be forgotten.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
No true defensive only player has won the Heisman Trophy. Charles Woodson, the last defender to win it in 1997, was a dynamic special teams returner as well as shutdown cornerback. Defenders just don’t draw the same type of attention that dual-threat quarterbacks do.
Besides being a defensive player, the biggest knock on Te’o’s candidacy could be that his consideration is more of a myth than a fact. Because he plays for the high-profile Notre Dame Fighting Irish he’s exposed to national audiences week in and week out.
But is he the best college football player in the nation? That debate brings us right back to the debate about whether or not a defender deserves that title.
It's not a good reason to discredit someone but it's a real barrier for the accomplished linebacker to overcome.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Klein isn’t as complete of a quarterback as Manziel is. His one-dimensional focus on running the football hurt the Wildcats’ chances in a disappointing loss to unranked Baylor.
He isn’t one-dimensional by choice, though. Klein struggles with accuracy at times and even more so on deep patterns. The senior QB was never a great passer for the Wildcats but used a new game plan in 2012 to stick to shorter patterns and maximize his efficiency.
Klein was not nearly as successful as Manziel as far as being a “dual-threat” quarterback goes.
He also didn’t put up the same kind of stats that his fellow finalist did. Johnny Football recorded 100 more total yards and one-half more scores per game than Klein.