Casing the Hearty Heisman Hopefuls

As the lights go down in New York City tonight, all eyes of the sports world will shift to the Best Buy Theater in Times Square (airing at 8pm eastern on ESPN) to witness what could be the most closely contended Heisman award in quite some time. Five players are involved this season, and we are actually getting a very good mix of players. I don’t know about you, but no matter how electrifying the player, it’s difficult to watch when there are four quarterbacks in the front row. Whether it be good karma, or a truly awesome mix of players, we will be graced by two quarterbacks (Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III), two tailbacks (Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Alabama’s Trent Richardson) and a defensive player (LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu aka The Honey Badger), which will help the suspense, and give us a better show, at least in my opinion.

Andrew Luck

For the better part of three seasons now, Andrew Luck has been force-fed into our psyche, like some kind of Carl Sagan Cosmos hypnotic Milky Way galaxy trance, and Luck has not disappointed. Luck has totaled 3,170 passing yards, 35 TD’s and only 9 INT’s. He basically had the same year as last year, just with 300 less rushing yards. If there was any year that Luck was a lock to win, it was last year. The competition may be too great for him to collect enough first place votes this time around. Of course, Cam Newton was a big obstacle last year, too.

Robert Griffin III

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has been that electrifying star I alluded to. The question is: Can a quarterback from Baylor win the Heisman trophy? When answering that consider this: Griffin was just two yards shy of 4,000 for the season, and ranked second in the nation in total offense. You do the math. Reports from several outlets are saying the Baylor signal caller is the front-runner to win tonight. Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up becoming the Gino Torretta, Eric Crouch, or Troy Smith’s of the world if he does win. I also hope that in the future the voters choose not to tell whom they are voting, or have voted for, so it makes it a little bit more interesting.

Montee Ball

When your name is mentioned in the same breath as Barry Sanders, you’re probably doing something right. If you come close to matching or breaking his touchdown record, you get considered for a Heisman win. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball came close to breaking Sanders’ record of 44 total touchdowns in the 1988 season when he was a junior at Oklahoma State. Ball finished the regular season with 38 total TD’s and nearly carried the entire rushing load for the Badgers after the departure of John Clay and a reduction/drop-off from sophomore James White. Ball is a great runner, but also benefits from a huge corn-fed O-line. Ball is most likely the dark horse this year, but will enjoy his time in New York none-the-less.

Trent Richardson

Roll Tide! That’s what Alabama running back Trent Richardson did in leading the offense of the Crimson Tide. While Richardson’s numbers aren’t as gaudy as Montee Ball’s make no mistake, he is their leader. That has to count for something. A good pass catcher out of the backfield, Richardson will also smash you in the mouth and knock you to the ground in route to helping his team play in the National Championship game. His 1,583 rushing yards and 20 TD’s also helped him to take home the Doak Walker award this past Thursday night. If I had a vote, and I don’t, Richardson would be my pick. He would be my pick not just for the numbers, but for his ultimate team first attitude as well.

Tyrann Mathieu

Honey Badger takes what he wants! Ok, ok, I used cliché’s back to back there and I apologize for that. Anyone who has seen that video you know what I’m talking about. You’d also form an understanding of how LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu plays his game. Mathieu took home the Chuck Bednarik award Thursday as the best defender in 2011. With 71 tackles, 2 INT’s and 6 forced fumbles, he is a beast on the field and not just scraping with wide receivers either. Mathieu amassed 4 total touchdowns while not taking an offensive snap. Of those TD’s, 2 of them where on punt returns where he gained 420 yards. His team is ranked No. 1 and will also play in the National Championship game. It’s too bad he won’t get to use that game as another showcase for why he should win. Mathieu would be a close second on my ballot, and I’m not even close to being an SEC apologist. He has the best chance to take home Mr. Heisman as a defensive player since Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson won it in 1997.

No matter who wins, this is to me is easily the best crop of talent chosen to come to the Big Apple in a while. The hardest part may not be picking who you’d give your first place vote to, but where to rank the rest behind your choice. Either way, I’ll actually be watching tonight, even if we know who the front-runner is.