2012 Heisman Trophy Award Candidates
The 2012 Heisman Trophy ceremony for the 2011 NCAA football season will take place tonight at 8:00PM EST at the Best Buy Theater in Time Square.
First awarded in 1935, the Heisman Trophy was re-named after former Georgia Tech athletic director and Downtown Athletic Club director John Heisman in 1936, just a year after its inception.
The purpose of the award is to name the season’s most outstanding player in college football.
Seemingly every year there is a race for the prestigious award all season long, and many had figured current Stanford Cardinal junior quarterback Andrew Luck to win in 2011, after being a finalist in 2010 behind winning player Cam Newton from Auburn.
However, there are a few more players in 2011 that have threw a wrench in Luck’s plans. Players like sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu from LSU, junior running back Montee Ball from Wisconsin, junior running back Trent Richardson from Alabama, and most recently junior quarterback Robert Griffin III from Baylor.
This Heisman Trophy presentation guarantees an underclassmen the award as there are no seniors in the running.
NFLSoup presents the Heisman Trophy candidates for 2011, and why each has a chance to win, as well as who we believe will take home the trophy. This list is based on what we believe the order will be, rather than what we believe it should be.
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
2011 Season: 275 rush, 1759 yards, 32 TD, 20 rec, 255 yards, 6 TD, 2/2 pass, 57 yards, 1 TD, 1 TPC
When you look at Ball’s season on paper, you wonder how anybody can top these numbers.
He single-handedly accounted for 39 of Wisconsin’s 78 offensive touchdowns, while doing much of his damage in the first two or three quarters of football games.
Ball was failed to have a game in which he did not record at least two total touchdowns in 2011, and was a crucial success to Wisconsin’s 11-2 season in which he led them to a Big Ten Championship.
There just has been no stopping Montee Ball in 2011. Michigan State and Ohio State kept him to just one touchdown on the ground, but he found other ways to score against them. Coincidentally enough, those were the two match-ups back to back in which Wisconsin lost.
Ball has a shot to win the Heisman Trophy with these numbers, and he was clearly one of the most outstanding players in the nation. However, Wisconsin has a history of producing running backs year after year courtesy of dominant offensive lines.
Voters will likely question just how much Ball did himself, as well as go back and review some of the huge running lanes he had.
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
2011 Season: 71 Tackle, 54 solo, 6.5 TFL, 2 sack, 2 INT, 7 PBU, 6 FF, 1 TD, 26 punt return, 420 yards, 2 TD
There’s truly nothing that sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu cannot do. Just looking at his stats alone, any person could tell that he’s extremely versatile.
He’s an exceptional punt returner, he can defend well in coverage, he can blitz, he can tackle, and he can force fumbles.
The Mathieu buzz has died down a bit since his one game suspension for testing positive for synthetic marijuana. But going into that suspension, the Honeybadger had everything going his way.
Mathieu scored three total touchdowns this year, two on punt returns, and one on a fumble in which he forced. He was a force when blitzing the opposing offense, and his speed and elusiveness made him feared when punting the football.
But the one game suspension will hurt Mathieu, as well as the fact that he is a sophomore. Generally sophomore’s have not won the award, although Tim Tebow changed that in 2007, followed by Sam Bradford and Mark Ingram.
Mathieu will likely be fourth of fifth in the Heisman voting.
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
2011 Season: 263 rush, 1583 yards, 20 TD, 27 rec, 327 yards, 3 TD
If there ever is a player that is most deserving of a Heisman Trophy it is Richardson. I’m personally a bit biased towards T-Rich, as I believe him to be the second most talented player in the nation only behind Andrew Luck, and in terms of NFL Draft potential.
But the hard work that this man puts out day in and day out is something that simply cannot be spoken for. He’s the first to get into the weight room and the last one to leave, but Heisman voters care what he did on the field.
What he did on the field was score touchdowns and lead a Bama offense with an inexperienced sophomore quarterback and as well as mediocre receivers to an 11 win season to which the only loss was against LSU.
Richardson is impossible to shut down at the college level and while he has an offensive line that is mauling, he gets an extremely high amount of yardage after contact which is the most impressive statistic that Heisman voters likely will not take into consideration.
Richardson should finish no worse than second, but I believe the voters will place him third behind Luck and Griffin in the 2011 Heisman trophy race.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2011 Season: 261/373 pass, 3170 yards, 35 TD, 9 INT, 43 rush, 153 yards, 2 TD
Luck was the #47 overall recruit in the nation according to Scout.com, and the #4 quarterback overall. Stanford nabbed him for their 2008 recruiting class, and hasn’t looked back since.
In 2010, Luck set the Stanford record for most touchdowns in a season with 32. He declined to enter the 2011 NFL Draft in hopes of bringing a championship to Stanford in 2011, as well as finishing his degree in architectural design.
Luck has been a top candidate for the 2012 Heisman for the entire season, as the expected number one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft has led Stanford to an impressive 11-1 mark, while throwing for over 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. Stanford would have gone undefeated and could have had a chance at the nationional championship if their loss to Oregon didn’t get out of hand in the fourth quarter.
Regardless, Luck’s resume speaks for itself. He’s thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this year, at least three in eight of 12 games, and has guided the Cardinals to it’s second season in a row of at least 11 wins (and just one loss).
The best part about Luck is that beyond his great stats and record, he’s as pro-ready as prospects come. He’s a near-lock to be the top pick in this year’s draft, and he carries an outstanding argument to land this year’s Heisman award, as well.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
2011 Season: 267/369 pass, 3998 yards, 36 TD, 6 INT, 161 rush, 644 yards, 9 TD
When you think of the Baylor Bears, the last thing you think about in recent years is their football program.
But Robert Griffin III has made this program relevant again, and he has made going to Baylor football games exciting and eventful.
RGIII has had one of the most inspiring seasons of all time by a college player. He’s a brilliant student athlete who has many things to look forward to outside of football.
But it just so happens to be that he has been one of the most exciting players to watch in 2011. With a little bit of help from talented wide receivers, and a solid run game, Griffin led the Baylor Bears to a 9-3 season.
Baylor was ranked in the AP and Coaches poll for the first time in 25 years. Some voters could argue that Baylor’s poor defense forced stat padding and led Griffin to have much more productive statistics.
The truth is that RGIII made clutch plays when he had to and won football games for a Baylor unit that isn’t as strong as their 9-3 record indicates, but they do have a lot of heart and will to win.
The good news is that many voters like feel good stories, and this is a great one. This is a story about a young quarterback who seemed to have limited upside that everybody believed was strictly a scrambling quarterback who could not throw.
Instead, this scrambling quarterback turned into a Top 10 NFL prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft, and is one of the best student-athletes in the entire nation, while being a stand-up, humble man.
Prediction: Robert Griffin III will be your Heisman Trophy winner in 2011.