It's Official: Breaking Down the Five Heisman Candidates
The ballots have been cast, the decision has been made and all we know is that there are five finalists this year for the Heisman trophy. And we all have to wait until Saturday to find out who has won the prestigious award for the 2009 football season.
So why is there a picture of Charles Woodson instead of Sam Bradford on the cover of this article?
For the first time in recent history, it seems that a defensive player has a legitimate shot at winning the Heisman trophy.
Five student-athletes are being invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony, and one that got shafted is the highlight of this article.
So who are the candidates? Why were they invited and who got shafted?
Position: Running Back
Season Statistics: 311 (RA) 1,736 yards, 28 TDs, 5.6 yards/carry, 1-1 (PA) 18 yrds 1 TD, 10 receptions 149 yards.
Toby Gerhart stole the show from Jacquizz Rogers, Jahvid Best and LeMichael James in the Pac-10 this year. He came out into his junior season relatively unknown and burst onto the scene by gaining over 1,500 yards in his first season as a started.
Coming into 2009, he was expected to be a good running back, but not this good. Amassing over 1,700 yards on the ground and accounting for most of the Cardinal offense throughout the season, Gerhart took over games in the fourth quarter and literally ran away with wins.
His most impressive performances were on the biggest stages against USC (178 yards), Oregon (223 yards), and Notre Dame (205 yards). If Toby Gerhart rushes for 264 yards in their Bowl game, he will have rushed for exactly 2,000 yards in the 2009 season without playing in a championship game.
Gerhart's resume is hard to match, even for quarterbacks. He's clearly your front runner in the Heisman race and maybe Jim Harbaugh's ticket out of Stanford and to Notre Dame. If there was a time to run away, this is it for Harbaugh.
Right now Gerhart seems to be No. 1 by the nose of the football.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Season Statistics: 82 Tackles (50 solo, 32 assisted, 23 for loss) 12 sacks, 10 pass break-ups, 24 QB hurries, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Interception, 3 Blocked Kicks.
Nobody mentioned a defensive tackle being in the Heisman race at the beginning of the season with the likes of Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Tim Tebow all coming back for yet another season.
The chips fell right for Suh though, as he dominated nearly every team he came in contact with and even took over games against Missouri, Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma. Besides, Sam Bradford went down with an injury, Colt McCoy started of slow and ended by getting dominated by Suh in the Big 12 championship game, and after his concussion Tim Tebow hasn't been the same.
For the young man from Portland,who doesn't like to live in the limelight, he's going to have to live with it for the next few months. He has the opportunity to become the most decorated defensive player in the game—not only being named a finalist for the Heisman but also for the Bronco Nagurski award, the Lombardi trophy, the Outland trophy, and the Bednarik award.
A man that's up for all of those awards with his stat line and his intangibles screams a Heisman front-runner. Even though the Heisman is usually an offensive award, it is to be short sighted to think that Suh doesn't have a chance.
And right behind Toby Gerhart, I think Suh might be close to getting onto the podium as the first "pure" defensive player to win the award in the last quarter-century. His game against Texas may have pushed McCoy out of the winner's circle and put him in it.
Against the most vaunted offense in the Big 12 Suh put up gaudy numbers: 12 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks breaking the Big 12 championship record for sacks in the game. It was enough it seems to get him at least invited to New York.
Position: Running Back
Season Statistics: 249 attempts, 1,542 yards, 6.2 yards/carry, 15 TDs, 30 receptions, 322 yards, 3 TDs
Mark Ingram made Tide fans forget all about Glenn Coffee. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore this season, amassing brilliant numbers and an impressive six yards a carry.
Before the Auburn game Ingram may have been considered the Heisman leader. After the less than stellar performance, he dropped from contender to pretender. Then the SEC championship game happened.
Ingram's performance, while slightly overshadowed by quarterback Greg McElroy, was amazing. He ran for 113 yards against what was supposed to be one of the nations most stout defensive units. To go along with that 100-yard performance, he amassed two receptions for 76 yards.
While he may be the best pure running back in the land, Ingram is also the beneficiary of a great offensive line and at least competent quarterback play. He's great, but given the propensity for voters to shy away from sophomore running backs, he's going to be fighting an uphill battle in which he will probably split many votes with Gerhart.
Right now, he is probably a 2b right behind Suh, but since he is an offensive player, he will likely get the edge in the votes over Suh but not Gerhart.
Season Statistics: 330/468, 70.5%, 3,512 yards, 27 TDs, 12 INTs; 128 rushing attempts, 348 yards 2.7 yards/carry, 3 TDs
Colt McCoy entered the season as the odd man out of the three Heisman Trophy amigos and the favorite to make the it a complete three-peat when Bradford went down. Besides, there was the absence of a break away threat in the Florida attack that wouldn't let Tebow surpass his Heisman-like numbers from the previous two season.
McCoy started slow but picked up the pace after a sub-par performance against Oklahoma in a 16-13 grinding of a win. His Heisman hype culminated with an impressive outing against arch-rival Texas A&M; he ran for 175 yards and threw for another 304 while putting together a five-touchdown effort.
It seemed like it was all locked up for McCoy—all he had to do was give a presentable effort against Nebraska and come away with a win. One of the two happened, he did come away with a win.
McCoy was harassed, intercepted three times, and ultimately almost cost his team the game on a controversial review that Husker fans and Longhorn fans view very differently.
Colt threw for only 184 yards on only 58 percent completion percentage. He was sacked nine times (4.5 by Ndamukong Suh) and threw three interceptions, all of which amounted to a field goal by the inept Huskers offense.
In fact, McCoy wasn't the reason that Texas won. They won in spite of his play; in fact some might say that they overcame his play to win the game, aided by a kick out of bounds and a horse collar tackle.
McCoy has a shot, but it's a long shot. He was out-shined by fellow Heisman candidate Suh in the game and was literally outplayed by him as well. It will be hard to objectively vote to put McCoy above Suh, since Suh basically ran him to the ground in Dallas.
Right now, it looks like McCoy is going to stay somewhere between three and four in the votes, mostly because of his two games against good defenses.
His combined statistics for games against Oklahoma and Nebraska were 41-of-75 (54 percent), 311 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT, and 53 yards rushing. Hardly Heisman numbers, and that's why he's on the outside looking in at the moment.
Season Statistics: 182/279, 65%, 2,413 yards, 18 TDs, 5 INTs, 203 rushing attempts 859 yards, 13 TDs, 4.2 yards/carry
Believe it or not, this is a down year for Tebow who won a Heisman trophy two years ago as a sophomore.
However, Tebow had a chance to win the Heisman on Saturday against Alabama, and he had the opportunity to become only the second player in college football history to get two Heisman trophies in a career (Archie Griffin in '74 and '75).
Ultimately, he let that slip away on Saturday. Tebow looked confused, upset, and depressed as Alabama's defense held him in check for most of the game. When given a chance to "will" his team to victory one last time, Tebow crumbled, throwing an uncharacteristic interception in the end zone to the shortest guy on the field in Javier Arenas for the Crimson Tide and failing to convert when it mattered most late in the game.
The 32-13 loss ruined any hopes of a national title for the Gators and seemingly any hopes of a Heisman for Tebow. He got the invite, though, and will make the trip to New York an unprecedented third year in a row.
Tebow is on the outside looking in. He should just enjoy another free trip to NYC and concede the loss to one of the other four.
Who Got Shafted?
C.J. Spiller got shafted on an opportunity to go to New York. He wouldn't have won it, but he definitely deserved to be there.
Unlike Tebow, Spiller "willed" his team to an ACC championship, scoring touchdowns, rushing, receiving, passing, and handling the punt and kickoff returns—that's five different ways to put six on the board.
If Spiller would have started a few games in the secondary, he probably would have returned a fumble and an interception back for a touchdown, too.
He has an uncanny ability to find the end zone, and it will be interesting to see what Clemson does without him this year. It's a shame that he didn't make it in either over Tebow or McCoy because this is definitely the best overall player on the offensive side of the ball in the nation.
If he played for USC, he would be number one in the ballots for sure. Reggie Bush anyone?
So there you have it, that's who got shafted and those are the official Heisman candidates. Watch ESPN on Saturday to see the winner. I'm pulling for a big man named Suh.