Matt Barkley, the USC Trojans QB who decided not to enter the NFL draft and return for his senior season, will not win the Heisman Trophy this year, that much is sure. But, who will accept the Heisman bust this December?
Late in the season it appeared that Kansas State Wildcats do-everything QB Collin Klein might be the guy. However, an ugly 52-24 upset loss to Baylor on Nov. 17 leaves Klein’s possibility as a finalist looming. Mante Te’O, the Notre Dame LB, has had an amazing season (tied for the FBS lead in interceptions with seven) under a fair amount of duress. Te’O lost both his girlfriend and grandmother earlier in the season, not to mention the stress of having to face every opponent’s best shot week in and week out as the Irish finished the season unbeaten.
The front-runner, however, for college football’s top award is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manzeil. The redshirt freshman has led the Aggies to a remarkable 10-2 record including an upset win over then top-ranked Alabama. Manziel, or “Johnny Football” as he has become known, is one of just a handful of quarterbacks who have thrown for over 3,000 yards and ran for over 1,000 in the same season. He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,181 yards and has run for 19 touchdowns.
When new head coach Kevin Sumlin took over, it appeared that the Aggies would be rebuilding while they entered the mighty SEC. After a season-opening loss to Florida, Texas A&M reeled off five straight wins and the legend of “Johnny Football” began to rise. If anyone needs validation that Manziel is deserving of the Heisman, watch the game film of the Aggies’ win over ‘Bama. Manziel was 24-of-31 passing for 253 yards, two touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception. He also rushed for 92 more yards against arguably the nation’s best defense.
Along with Klein, Te’O, and Manziel, the other finalists may be Oregon Ducks speedy RB Kenjon Barner who has rushed for 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns, and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, who has hauled in 112 receptions for 1,680 yards and 14 scores. This year’s winner will be announced on Saturday, December 8, live from the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.