This is the last weekend before Heisman voting and I’m going to wait until the last minute before casting the ballot.
It’s not really “casting the ballot.” I’ve been “clicking some boxes” online now for several years, but back when I first received my Heisman vote, around ’94 or thereabouts, I took out a pen, checked Iowa State running back Troy Davis’ name and put it in the self-addressed stamped envelop for snail mailing.
Funny thing about looking back. I’ve been way too lax of a note taker when it comes to this kind of thing. I probably should know each and every one of my 18 Heisman votes. Let’s see, Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Ndamukong Suh, Ricky Williams and the man named RGIII.
Of course, I voted for Iowa QB Brad Banks in 2002. Carson Palmer deserved it and rode a romp over Notre Dame to the trophy.
So, last weekend and I’ve narrowed it to four candidates.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
What’s not to like? — Seriously, this kid is a great story. Plays a dashing style of game with a humble nature, at least from where I sit. He has the cool “Johnny Football” nickname. He is a human YouTube channel. He beat Alabama at Tuscaloosa. I also like where he is, the weirdly energized football-crazed Texas A&M. He initially committed to Oregon. I also like that he didn’t end up in Eugene. Like that place needs anymore help.
OK, there’s this — Plays in the video game offense that made Case Keenum something. A&M isn’t playing for any championships (but hey, two losses in close games to Florida and LSU).
My frontrunner going into the weekend. The record 4,600 yards in the SEC, where defense is still a thing, puts him over the top. By the way, the 4,600 yards top Cam Newton and Tim Tebow.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein
What’s not to like? — Kansas State is 10-1 and No. 7 in the country. Yes, Bill Snyder has had this program in this realm, but Klein has been the push here. He’s thrown 14 TD passes and has rushed for 20 more. He led the Wildcats to victories over four ranked teams. He is the heartbeat here.
OK, there’s this — Three interceptions in a 52-24 loss to Baylor, which treats defense like a husband holding his wife’s purse at the mall.
I watched Klein lead KSU to victory at Oklahoma and decided. Then, Johnny Football. Of course, five TDs against in a victory over Texas might put a dent in the favored Manziel’s lead. I liked K-State’s campaign material, with a foldout mailer that had a picture of Klein’s torn up elbows and was sealed shut by a Band-Aid.
Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o
What’s not to like? — He is the inspirational leader on one of the best teams and, arguably, the best defense in the country. Te’o had one of his best games of the season against Michigan State, just days after his girlfriend and grandmother died hours apart. A week later, on the day his girlfriend was buried, he had eight tackles and two interceptions against Michigan in a 13-6 win. From every interview I’ve seen, he has a genuine love and enthusiasm for his team.
OK, there’s this — The last linebacker to win the Heisman? Never has happened. That Notre Dame defense is outstanding. OUTSTANDING. The two QBs I have ahead of them simply have more quantifiable “what they mean to the team” numbers.
The two QBs I have ahead of him have more quantifiable “what they mean to the team” numbers.
Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch
What’s not to like? — You remember this guy, right? Lynch nearly led the Huskies to an upset over Iowa in week 1 at Soldier Field. Well, it would’ve been an upset then. Now, of course, NIU is 11-1 and playing for a possible BCS berth in tonight’s MAC title game and the Hawkeyes are home for the holidays. Try these numbers on: In 12 games he rushed for 1,611 yds, 16 TD’s, 134.2 yards/game and passed for 2,750 yds, 23 TD’s and only four INT’s with a QB rating of 157.3
And this note from his coach Dave Doeren (coming to a Big Ten program near you very soon, BTW): “He is a blue collar winner that truly loves and respects the game of football. His relentless energy and passion for competition and winning is inspirational and contagious. I love to see him practice and play — he is worthy of any and all consideration he gets for the Heisman Trophy. As an award that represents the best – he is purely that! I know that there are many deserving candidates out there. I just wanted you to know from a coaches perspective how special Jordan Lynch is. This is what college football players should inspire to be like — he is tough, loyal, competitive, fierce, poised, accountable, and productive!”
OK, there’s this — The MAC. This would be a ceremonial vote, but you do get to vote for three players (Nos. 1 through 3) and I absolutely love the idea of recognizing a player who’s meant so much to his team.
This guy is a junior, so you’ll get to see him for yourself next fall when the Hawkeyes play host to NIU at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 31.