Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of this article to cast your Heisman vote!
This Saturday night, the Heisman Trophy winner will be announced for the 2012 season. Only three finalists have been invited to New York to attend the ceremony, meaning the traditional five was trimmed due to a gap in final voting. Below, I’ve listed the three finalists. I have seen some things out of all three men that make me think they’re Heisman Trophy material, but I also saw some drawbacks during the season. So read them all, then enter your vote for who you think the winner should be in the interactive poll at the bottom.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Reasons why he could win: Johnny Football has easily been one of the most electrifying players in college football this year. He makes exciting plays at clutch moments, and his agility allows him to open up the field and keep a defense off-balance. His leadership in the Aggies’ 29-24 victory over the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Nov. 10 was simply unparalleled — before that game, he wasn’t much of a Heisman contender to folks outside College Station, Texas. Since that win, he hasn’t looked back. Manziel has thrown 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his last five games. In six games this season, he rushed for more than 100 yards. A true dual-threat signal-caller, Manziel is now the favorite to win the Heisman, according to Vegas odds.
Reasons why he might not win: In the many, many years that this award has been given out, no freshman has ever gone home victorious. It’s rare to even see a freshman invited to the ceremony. So the media will have to get over their love of tradition if Manziel, a redshirt freshman, is going to win. Also, Johnny Football is the newcomer to this Heisman group. The other two finalists have been on the list for a while, because they had a quicker start to the year. Some members of the media might have made up their minds before Texas A&M beat Alabama and will stick to their guns. Manziel also had a really bad game right in the middle of the season when the Aggies lost 24-19 to LSU in College Station. He threw three interceptions and no touchdowns while being held to just 27 yards on 17 rushes. He might have been the reason why they lost that game, and there’s at least one finalist who definitely didn’t lose his team any games this year. That person is:
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Reasons why he could win: Te’o has been a crowd favorite in 2012. He’s fought through plenty of hardships with the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother during the season. In half of the Irish’s games this year, Te’o had at least 10 tackles and he had eight interceptions. He’s the team captain on the only undefeated team in the nation, and that’s been a very big deal on some previous Heisman ballots.
Reasons why he might not win: It has been a while since the last time a defensive player won the Heisman (Charles Woodson, 1997). By my count, it would also be the first time a linebacker ever won the award. So Te’o has a lot of history to overcome if he’s going to win the Heisman. Also, his output has fallen off a little bit in the last four games of the season — Te’o didn’t have more than seven tackles in any of the final four games.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Reasons why he could win: Klein was a phenomenal talent for most of the season and was a very trendy pick to win the Heisman in a runaway for the first three months of the season. He deserved that praise, too — his playmaking abilities at the helm of a very powerful offense grabbed the attention of the college football world. Kansas State went from a lightly-regarded team all the way to No. 2 in the BCS standings due to some shockingly-lopsided wins against teams like Miami, West Virginia and Texas Tech. He is a dual-threat quarterback, just like Manziel.
Reasons why he might not win: After suffering a concussion in a Nov. 3 victory over Oklahoma State, Klein looked like a different player the rest of the season. He appeared out of sorts at times, and didn’t resemble the fearless quarterback he was before the injury (understandably so). His numbers aren’t as good as Manziel’s, so the stat freaks wouldn’t vote for Klein. With their undefeated season on the line, he threw three interceptions and two touchdowns in a horrible 52-24 loss to Baylor on Nov. 17. Voters want to see leadership in moments like that, and Klein didn’t play well at all.