Heisman Vote Could Be Historic
By Lateef Mungin, CNN
(CNN) — History could be made Saturday if Heisman Trophy voters give the award to Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M freshman quarterback who goes by the moniker “Johnny Football.”
No freshman has ever won the Heisman, college football’s most prestigious award.
There have been other freshman who’ve dazzled college football before.
In 1980, Georgia running back Herschel Walker ran for more than 1,600 yards in his freshman year, only to get third place in the voting.
Michael Vick led Virginia Tech to an undefeated regular season and to the BCS national game in 1999 in his freshman year. He got third place in the Heisman voting.
In 2004, freshman running back Adrian Peterson came in second place in the Heisman voting after running for nearly 2,000 yards.
No other freshman football player has gotten as close to winning the Heisman as the three in the award’s 77 year history
But Johnny Football may change that Saturday, many say, as the young signal caller has emerged as the front-runner.
“The young man whose name should be announced Saturday is Manziel,” San Jose Mercury News columnist Monte Poole wrote. “He did things we’ve never seen by any quarterback, much less a freshman. His season, quite simply, defied logic.”
Manziel amassed 43 touchdowns this year and his 4,600 yards smashed the South Eastern Conference record for total offense, a record once held by former Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
But beyond the numbers, what put Manziel on the map was his play in Texas A&M’s improbable November win against then No. 1 ranked Alabama.
The other finalists in the race are Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.
A win by Te’o would be a feat also. The hard-hitting senior linebacker would become the first exclusively defensive player to win the award.
Defensive back Charles Woodson won the award in 1997, but he also played offensive at times that season and excelled as a special teams player.
Te’o is thought of as the leader of a Notre Dame team that is undefeated this year and will play Alabama in the BCS national game .
Klein came in this year as leader in the Heisman race. He had a strong season and threw 15 touchdown passes. But his candidacy seemed to take a hit when his team, Kansas State, got battered and beaten by Baylor in November 52-24.