The year was 1973. An unpopular, controversial president was leading the country, America was fighting an unpopular war across the world, Joe Paterno was the head coach of Penn State, and a running back with 22 on his uniform was leading Penn State to an undefeated season.
35 years later, some things never change. John Cappelletti was the prized running who won the Heisman Trophy in 1973, and Evan Royster is the current back who is trying to replicate his success in 2008.
Through just six games this season, Royster is off to a phenomenal start. Compiling 659 yards and 8 touchdowns, Evan Royster is leading the team to a perfect 6-0 record and has catapulted the Nittany Lions to the upper echelon of college football.
Only a sophomore, Royster is already garnering comparisons to the great Cappelletti around Happy Valley. However, he has failed to garner significant attention on the national stage. Is Royster a serious threat to bring the Heisman back to State College? Here are my Top Ten Midseason Heisman Trophy Candidates:
Chase Daniel, Quarterback, Missouri
He's the best offensive player on the best offense in the country, so it is tough not to put Daniel atop this list. He has posted gaudy numbers so far with 15 touchdowns, just 1 interception, and an eye-popping 76.3 completion percentage. If he can continue his dominance in the coming weeks against Texas and Oklahoma State, he could clinch this award early.
Colt McCoy, Quarterback, Texas
Perhaps the most improved player in the past four seasons, McCoy has grown into an outstanding dual-threat quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. Pairing 317 yards and four touchdowns on the ground with an astounding 79.2 completion percentage is simply unheard of.
Despite losing a lot of talent this past off-season to the NFL Draft, McCoy still has his Longhorns ranked fifth in the country. He has a chance to make a statement this week, both for his team and his Heisman chances, when Texas travels to Oklahoma to take on the top-ranked Sooners.
If McCoy continues to shine on the road and defeat the top-ranked team in the country, expect him to rise to the top of this list.
Sam Bradford, Quarterback, Oklahoma
Completing the trio of outstanding Big 12 quarterbacks is Oklahoma’s Bradford. Why is the quarterback of the best team in the nation only ranked third among quarterbacks in his own conference?
While he has been dominant through five games thus far this season, his quality of opponent is weak to say the least. That all changes this week when Oklahoma hosts fifth-ranked Texas, and Bradford has a chance to solidify his candidacy.
These three quarterbacks can easily be reversed in order, but his lack of mobility, combined with his weak strength of schedule, places him third for the time being.
Javon Ringer, Running Back, Michigan State
Royster is not the only running back excelling in the Big Ten, as Penn State’s “rival” features a viable candidate of their own. Michigan State’s Ringer has been a workhorse all season long.
Already lugging the ball 212 times in just six games, Ringer is just 12 yards away from reaching the 1,000 yard plateau. His low yards per carry has many wondering if his statistics are skewed by Michigan State’s offensive system.
Charles Scott, Running Back, Louisiana State University
What happens when a two-quarterback team loses both quarterbacks to the NFL and expulsion in just one off-season? Well, they improve, naturally, due to the outstanding play of running back Scott.
In just five games this season, Scott has rushed for 535 yards and six touchdowns. Already passing one tough test against Auburn as he rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries, Scott will face another tough defense this week in the Florida Gators.
Max Hall, Quarterback, Brigham Young University
When looking through the Top 25 College Football Rankings, the usual names pop up. Giant football programs like Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Penn State, and USC top the list.
But, BYU? Really?
Yes, the Cougars are a legitimate championship contender, and currently sit ninth in the polls. Pioneering this program’s newfound success is quarterback Hall.
Through five victories so far this season, Hall has compiled 1,587 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, a mere four interceptions, and an astounding 71.8 completion percentage. As long as Max Hall is under center, Brigham Young is for real.
Evan Royster, Running Back, Penn State
After years of relative obscurity, at least by their standards, Penn State is finally relevant in the national college football scheme. Off to a blistering 6-0 start, the Nittany Lions are near the top in almost every significant offensive category.
Leading the Lions is sophomore running back Evan Royster. With 659 yards, eight touchdowns, and 7.8 yards per carry average, Royster has pummeled opposing defenses all season long.
While he may not garner substantial votes in his sophomore season, Royster has a serious chance to hoist the hardware by the time his career is over in Happy Valley. In the meantime, he might just have to settle for a BCS bowl berth.
Graham Harrell, Quarterback, Texas Tech
How does the nation’s leading passer only rank eighth on the Heisman Trophy list? Similar to Ringer’s rushing statistics in Michigan State’s offense, the passing numbers at Texas Tech are severely inflated with their run and gun scheme.
With no running game to speak of, Harrell attempts 50 passes per game with regularity, creating an excessive amount of opportunities for touchdown passes to wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
While both he and Crabtree are both great players, their lucrative numbers overstate their value.
Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver, Texas Tech
As stated above, the knock on Harrell is the same knock on Crabtree. While Crabtree may very well lead the nation in every receiving category, the amount of reps he gets from the much favored passing game greatly skews his statistics.
Crabtree is a great player and may very well be a great pro, but Tech’s offensive scheme give Crabtree’s statistics a severe boost that makes his candidacy questionable.
Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, Missouri
Like spaghetti and meatballs, the chemistry between Daniel and Maclin is unmatched. Daniel will take away much of the votes from Maclin, but the wide receiver is among the best in the country.
With 480 yards and five touchdowns so far this season, Maclin has given opposing Big 12 cornerbacks fits. The inevitable statistical comparisons to fellow Big 12 wide receiver Crabtree will also severely diminish his chances at winning the prestigious award.