Each year, a special athlete is recognized for his talents on the gridiron. The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the best football player of the year.
This year has been an odd one for the Heisman, as there is no true frontrunner as in years past.
None of the candidates have overly flashy numbers or personalities. Their priorities are centered not on the trophy, but on the bowl games for which their teams are currently preparing.
I will look at all the candidates and state reasons for and against each one winning the Heisman. At the end, I will give you my prediction. Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.
Note : Team offense and defense rankings are cited from sportsratings.typepad.com. Any Football Conference Subdivision (FCS, formerly Division I-AA) team is automatically ranked 121.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
For: Truly the bright spot on a team that went 8-4, Gerhart was consistent throughout the season. Everyone knew he was getting the ball, and he would still get yards.
Stanford played three ranked teams; Gerhart had 86 carries for 442 yards and seven touchdowns in these games. Stanford played teams with an average ranking of 44.8 in overall defense. Gerhart finished the season with 1,736 yards, 26 touchdowns, and an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
Against: First of all, nobody heard of Gerhart until almost the last game of the season. The Heisman is as much about hype as it is about statistics. He is also on a team that only had eight wins in a weak conference. Voters do not like Pac-10 candidates unless they hail from USC.
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
For: Ingram is arguably the best player on his team, which is ranked No. 1 in the country. How can you say he does not deserve to win? Ingram finished the season with 1,542 yards and 15 touchdowns. Most impressively, he showed versatility by catching 30 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns. Ingram helped his Heisman hype by rushing for 113 yards and three touchdowns against Florida in the SEC Championship.
Against: Ingram struggled against Auburn, whose defense is ranked 53rd in the nation. He only had 30 yards and no touchdowns. While age is not a formal prerequisite for Heisman consideration, voters may expect bigger things from Ingram and shy away from voting for him because he is only a sophomore.
Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
For: McCoy boasts the flashiest numbers of the slate of Heisman candidates. He has thrown for over 3500 yards and a combined 30 touchdowns this season, completing 70 percent of his passes. He has led Texas to an undefeated season and a national championship berth.
Voters could also give the Heisman to McCoy in recognition of his career achievements and overlook the fact that his numbers have declined over previous years.
Against: The Longhorns have only faced two decent defenses this season, Oklahoma and Nebraska; McCoy struggled in both games. He went 21-for-39 for 127 yards, one touchdown, and an interception against Oklahoma. Against Nebraska, McCoy went 20-for-36 for 184 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. While he did score a rushing touchdown, he finished with -20 yards rushing for the game.
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
For: Suh has an impressive resume. He has 82 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, three blocked kicks, and an interception this season. In the Big 12 Championship game, he had 4.5 sacks against a Texas offense ranked No. 1 overall.
Against: Obviously, I have to point out that Suh is a defender. It is very hard for a defensive player to win the Heisman, let alone a defensive tackle. He also suffers from a similar lack of exposure as his fellow candidate Gerhart. The other big problem was inconsistency. He all but disappeared against Kansas and Texas Tech.
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
For: While Tebow's numbers are not as impressive as when he won the Heisman in 2007, Tebow did well this season. He was truly a dual threat, finishing with over 2400 yards passing, 800 yards rushing, and a combined 31 touchdowns. He only threw five interceptions against McCoy's 12. The SEC is considered the toughest conference, so voters will like his numbers against the tough SEC defenses.
Against: In the SEC Championship game, Tebow went head-to-head against Ingram and was outplayed. Tebow only had 247 passing yards, 63 rushing yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also barely played in the Kentucky game when he went out with a concussion. Between the two quarterbacks, Tebow's numbers are less impressive than McCoy's.
How do I want them to finish? (opinion)
While I believe all five of these guys deserve the Heisman, I would like to see them finish in the following order.
Winner— Toby Gerhart
No. 2 — Colt McCoy
No. 3 — Ndamukong Suh
No. 4 — Mark Ingram
No. 5 — Tim Tebow
Gerhart is the best player in the country. I have watched him play and no running back can do what he does. He is so versatile, and even threw for a touchdown against Notre Dame. Without him, his team would easily have gone below .500 and missed a bowl bid.
While the other players are valuable to their teams, the other teams have many weapons. McCoy got to throw to Jordan Shipley and Malcolm Williams. Ingram's performance at Alabama was supported by strong players on the other side of the ball, like Terrence Cody and Javier Arenas.
I will argue that without McCoy, Ingram, and Tebow, their teams may not have done as well, but they certainly would not have lost more than two games this season.
How Will They Finish?
Here is my prediction for their order of finish, based on voting history and trends, as well as what Heisman voters look for:
Winner— Colt McCoy
No. 2 — Mark Ingram
No. 3 — Tim Tebow
No. 4 — Toby Gerhart
No. 5 — Ndamukong Suh