It’s that time of year again: After all the bowl games were announced, it was time to narrow the Heisman trophy field down to three players. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Collin Klein of Kansas State and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame are in the running to be named College Football’s best player in the 2012 season.
For Te’o and Manziel, it could be a historic night. No freshman has ever won the award, and Manziel seems to be the favorite to take it home. Michael Vick of Virginia Tech came in third in 1999 as a redshirt freshman and Herschel Walker was a true freshman for Georgia in 1980 when he finished third in the Heisman balloting. Te’o might be the first defense-only player to win the Heisman. For Klein, it’ll only be local history – no player from Kansas State has ever won the award.
Manziel will be celebrating his 20th birthday in two days. Born in Tyler, Texas, he led the Aggies to the 10-2 season during their first ever SEC campaign, which includeda big win over #1 (at the time) Alabama and two more wins over ranked teams. Their losses (to LSU and Florida), in which Manziel struggled, were by a total of only 8 points. He set an SEC-record 4,600 yards of total offense, including 1,181 rushing to lead the conference. He’s also the first player in FBS history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game three times in his career.
Te’o, the Irish’s senior linebacker who just won the Dick Butkus award, was second in the nation with 7 interceptions this season, the most for a linebacker. He also led the Fighting Irish with 103 tackles. If he wins the Heisman, he’ll be the 8th Notre Dame player to win the award. Tim Brown (1987) is the last Irish player to win the trophy.
Charles Woodson is the only primarily-defensive player to win the award, edging out Peyton Manning to win in 1997. While mostly a cornerback, ut also occasionally played as a wide receiver and punt returner.
Collin Klein will be the first Wildcat to win it if his name comes out on top of the balloting. The winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award is also a senior; he threw for 2490 yards (15 touchdowns) and ran for 890 yards, scoring 22 touchdowns. The Fiesta Bowl matchup vs Oregon will be his last in his College career.