Joe Burrow Running Away with a Heisman Shouldn't Diminish Other Finalists' Years

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2019

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 07: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Terrace Marshall Jr. #6 (not pictured) in the third quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Joe Burrow deserves all of the praise he's about to receive. He's the clear winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy.

LSU's senior quarterback turned a revamped offense into the nation's most explosive attack, smashing records while leading the Tigers to a 13-0 record and College Football Playoff berth.

His numbersa 77.9 completion rate at 10.7 yards per attempt with 4,715 passing yards and 48 touchdowns to six interceptionsare a combination of remarkable and historically unparalleled.

Focusing solely on the winner, though, does a disservice to the other finalists. Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts and Chase Young each put together stellar years that will be remembered in various ways, and they deserve one final moment in the spotlight.

All before, once again, Burrow commands the headlines.


Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Oklahoma will not have a third straight Heisman winner, but the simple counting stats for Hurts in 2019 are familiar.

What happened in one particular season should not define voting in another. Still, the comparison between Kyler Murray's accomplishments and Hurts' resume is remarkable.

Kerry Miller @kerrancejames

I know Joe Burrow is going to win the Heisman in runaway fashion, but y'all... Jalen Hurts (thru 13 games): 71.8% Comp, 4,914 total yards, 51 TD, 6 INT Kyler Murray (thru 13 games): 70.9% Comp, 4,945 total yards, 51 TD, 7 INT

More impressively, that's the surface-level observation; Hurts has matched a much larger historical trend.

Since 2000, per Sports Reference, only four playersTim Tebow (2007), Cam Newton (2010), Marcus Mariota (2014) and Lamar Jackson (2016)had thrown 30 touchdowns and run for 15 more. All four won the Heisman Trophy that season.

Despite accomplishing the same, Hurts will trail Burrow.

Hurts has maneuvered his way into the impressive Oklahoma record book and should rise a little further during the Peach Bowl.

Murray holds the school's single-season record for total offensive yards at 5,362, and Baker Mayfield (4,938) is close behind. Barring injury or an absolute disaster, Hurts (4,889) will surpass Mayfield against LSU with a shot to catch Murray.

Additionally, the senior's 51 total touchdowns32 passing, 18 rushing, one receivingare only behind Sam Bradford (55) and Murray (54). Both marks are certainly within reach.

Bradford, Murray and Mayfield all hoisted the Heisman in those respective seasons. Context matters, though, and the details mean Hurts may finish third or fourth in 2019.


Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Ohio State consistently played a high level of competition. In 13 games, Fields opposed nine defenses that enter bowl season ranked in the top 50 of yards allowed per pass attempt.

And the sophomore destroyed most of them anyway.

Fields tossed multiple scores in all 13 games and totaled four-plus touchdowns in nine contests. Burrow, for comparison's sake, accomplished those feats 12 and seven times, respectively.

That dominance helped OSU post a double-digit margin of victory in every game, and it also has Fields set to make history. Since 2000though quite possibly everno quarterback has thrown 30-plus touchdowns with two interceptions or fewer.

Fields takes a 40-to-1 TD/INT ratio into the Fiesta Bowl.

"What they've done offensively, it's been special to watchled by Justin," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said on ESPN. "The combination of their run game and their pass game, and just the threat that he brings. His ability to beat you with his arm and his legshe's a special player."

Although his overall numbers are still impressive, Fields' candidacy is somewhat dragged down by Ohio State's success.

Because the Buckeyes routinely crushed their opposition, he threw just 92 passes in the second half all season. Again for comparison, Burrow registered 161 attempts and Hurts had 130. Imaginary production does not count, but it's reasonable to wonder how much greater Fields' numbers could be.

Considering his stat line already includes 3,424 total yards and 50 touchdowns, that's an incredible thought.


Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Already the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the winner of the Nagurski Award and undoubtedly headed for more recognition, Young is officially part of a rare club.

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

Defensive linemen Heisman finalists: Steve Emtman, Washington (1991) Warren Sapp, Miami (1994) Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (2009) Chase Young, Ohio State (2019)

Young will be the first defender to finish in the top four of Heisman Trophy voting since Manti Te'o in 2012and only the third this millennium (Ndamukong Suh, 2009).

The junior totaled a Football Bowl Subdivision-best 16.5 sacks while ranking fourth nationally in tackles for loss (21) and second in forced fumbles (six). During the regular season, Pro Football Focus credited Young with 47 total pressures.

All despite missing two games.

Whether you or I believe a suspension for taking out an against-NCAA-rules-but-otherwise-legal loan is a problem is irrelevant; rather, the focus should be on his performance.

"His presence matters," Ohio State coach Ryan Day said, according to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Although sometimes maybe it doesn't mean he's getting sacks or TFLs, when two or three guys get the attention of him, that opens up things for other guys."

Young set his program's single-season sack record. He recorded at least one tackle for loss in 10 of his 11 appearances. His presence demanded extra attention from blockers.

And it all leads to a deserved place in New York as a Heisman finalist.

Burrow's efficiency and production are truly exceptional. He passed for 300-plus yards in 11 games and averaged 285.5 yards with eight total touchdowns in the two contests he fell short of the mark. The list of programs LSU defeatedat Texas, Florida, Auburn, at Alabama, Georgiais special.

For good reason, the trifecta of Hurts, Fields and Young will finish behind Burrow in the voting.

While it's unfair to say one of them could've won in any other seasonwe can never be certain how context affects a racethey're all unquestionably Heisman caliber-players.

Today's embrace-debate sports culture strays from lauding a runner-up; only one standout can hoist the trophy, after all. But there's absolutely no shame in being the second-, third- or fourth-best player in the country, and they should be lauded for it.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.