Heisman Trophy Watch: Breaking Down AJ McCarron's Case with a Month Left

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Heisman Trophy Watch: Breaking Down AJ McCarron's Case with a Month Left
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
McCarron is on the verge of competing for his third national championship.

If you're looking for a box-score hero, Alabama's AJ McCarron isn't your guy.

He doesn't post gaudy numbers, he plays for Alabama, and his coach produces pro-level talent like a farm system.

So, why is McCarron deserving of the Heisman?

Because he has grown from the proverbial game manager to a game changer. He plays an integral role in Alabama's offense and isn't just an innocent bystander. And it certainly helps that he has slowly become one of the country's most efficient quarterbacks. 

Don't believe me?

McCarron ranks near the top of the country in completion percentage (67.8), ranks 12th in passing efficiency (162.2) and eighth in total QBR (81.1).

Nick Saban certainly thinks he has the best player at the position.

Alabama's offense will never be as explosive and high-powered as Oregon's or FSU's, but consider the context in which McCarron has won football games.

In fairly close contests, the fifth-year senior has turned in 650 passing yards on 50-of-66 passing and five touchdowns in situations where Alabama has led by a margin of one to seven points, according to ESPN.com.

By the Numbers: AJ McCarron
vs. AP teams 693 YDS 7 TD 8.56 YPA 170.8 RTG
vs. Conference teams 1694 YDS 15 TD 8.64 YPA 162.1 RTG
Winning by 1-7 650 YDS 5 TD 9.85 YPA 180.5 RTG
Final Margin 0-7 334 YDS 4 TD 11.52 YPA 211.2 RTG

ESPN.com

Not impressed?

Check out McCarron's game-sealing touchdown throw to tight end O.J. Howard versus LSU on Nov. 9, as noted by Zac Ellis of SI.com. It's a testament to his ability to make big throws in critical situations.

"We've seen him in big games against LSU, make throws; 19 touchdowns this year and 13 against the blitz," NFL.com's Bucky Brooks told NFL.com's Dave Dameshek in a video feature, courtesy of Chase Goodbread.

"This guy understands how to make plays when he's counted on. I love it. I love his game. I think NFL evaluators as they get closer to the draft, you'll see AJ McCarron rise up and he will be a first-round pick."

Scan over his numbers versus the country's most premier programs, including Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and LSU, and you'll see why McCarron deserves some consideration.

Will McCarron win the Heisman Trophy?

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And as Forbes.com's Roger Groves illustrates, McCarron's intangibles, incapable of being measured, are unmatched.

I am willing to bet your mortgage A.J. McCarron will not win the Heisman Trophy this year. It is his senior year and his last chance. He has been the most consistent illustration of efficiency at the most important position at the highest level of the college game over the past three years.

In head-to-head contests with Heisman hopefuls Zach Mettenberger and Johnny Manziel, McCarron was wildly productive.

The Mobile, Ala., native out-dueled Manziel, tossing four touchdowns and 334 yards. And against LSU on Nov. 9, McCarron sealed yet another key victory after posting three touchdowns and 179 yards (14-of-20).

McCarron may not eclipse the 3,000-yard passing mark or sniff Jameis Winston's touchdown total. But he's well on his way to competing for his third national championship—a feat no modern-day Heisman winner had accomplished—all the while ending his collegiate career as the most storied signal-caller in Alabama's prestigious history.

And while it may not equate to better Heisman odds, it's certainly worth something.

You can follow Charles on Twitter at @chuckkingsbury

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