By Matt Johnson

While I am not blessed with the opportunity to serve as one of the 870 voters who gets to vote for the Heisman winner, I still want to let everyone see what my ballot would look like.  I know there are only 3 finalists but I wanted to share my Top 5. I will start from five to one, hope you enjoy.

5.) Jordan Lynch QB, Northern Illinois

2012 Stats:  Passing: 222/353 for 2,962 passing yards 24 TD’s 5 INT’s 153.0 QB Rating

Rushing: 271 carries for 1,771 rushing yards and 19 TD’s

Overview:

Jordan Lynch is somebody casual college football fans have never heard of. I admit before the season started I never even knew he existed. Lynch became the starting QB for Northern Illinois Huskies. The season didn’t get off to a great start for Jordan or NIU as they lost a 18-17 nail-biter to Iowa. Lynch completed just 6 of 16 passes in that game without a passing touchdown or interception, but he ran the ball 18 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. After that game Jordan Lynch led the Wolfpack to 12 straight wins, a Mid-American Conference title and an Orange Bowl berth. While the wins may not impress people, what Lynch did in those games should. Lynch is not your ordinary mobile QB, while he does have speed he is just as capable of out running LB’s as he is to run them over. Lynch runs like a FB and proved he could carry the workload leading Northern Illinois in carries (271), rushing yards (1,771) and rushing touchdowns (19). Not only did Lynch lead his team in rushing yards he led the country as well, finishing ahead of guys such as Montee Ball and Johnathan Franklin. Lynch is more than capable as a passer completing nearly 63 percent of his passes, and a 153 QB Rating. Lynch only threw for 2,962 yards but when you combine that with his 1,771 rushing yards you get an impressive 4,733 total yards. It is also hard to argue with a player who finished the year with 43 touchdowns. While Lynch may not be one of the most popular players, you can’t ignore the numbers he put up. Jordan Lynch wad a sensational year and he comes in 5th in my Heisman Rankings.

4.) Tavon Austin WR, West Virginia Mountaineers

2012 Stats:  Receiving: 110 receptions for 1,259 yards and 12 TD’s

Rushing: 61 carries for 598 yards and 3 TD’s

Return: 15 Punt Returns for 165 yards and 1 TD//28 Kick Returns for 738 yards and 1 TD

Overview:

While some will say Marqise Lee is a more electrifying WR than Tavon Austin, I have to give Austin the nod over Lee. While they both excelled as a receiver and returner, Austin elevated his game to a whole new level as a running back. When the West Virginia Mountaineers were struggling running the football, the decision was made to let Austin have a go at it. The experiment paid off in a big way, on just 61 carries Tavon Austin ran for 598 yards and 3 TD’s. Austin’s 9.8 YPC got the Mountaineers running attack going again, While Austin stepped up as a running back he was even more electric in his natural position. Austin became a favorite of QB Geno Smith, hauling in 110 passes for 1,259 yards and 12 TD’s. Lastly there is Tavon Austin as a return man, which can be just as captivating. While Austin only returned 2 kicks for touchdowns, it was his long runs that put West Virginia in great field position that really stand out. I’m sure you can make a case for Marqise Lee, but what Austin did out of the backfield is the deciding factor in my decision.

3.) Collin Klein QB, Kansas State

2012 Stats: Passing: 180/272 for 2,490 Passing Yards 15 TD’s 7 INT’s 156.1 QB Rating

Rushing: 194 carries for 890 yards and 22 TD’s

Overview:

If it weren’t for a blowout loss to the Baylor Bears, not only would Collin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats be in the BCS National Championship he would also be a serious Heisman contender. Collin Klein had a tremendous season for a Kansas State team that wasn’t even ranked inside the Top 20, it is incredible what the senior QB did in 2012. As a passer Klein had an average season, passing for just 15 TD’s and 7 INT’s and 2,490 passing yards. Klein isn’t your traditional quarterback though, he wins games running the football. In 2012, While Klein only had 890 rushing yards he was efficient when he ran. Klein found the end zone 22 times when he carried the football, which tied him for 2nd in the country among all players. Klein was the entire Wildcats offense as he led the team to 10 straight wins, including against then-No.6 Oklahoma and later against West Virginia. In the end though, voters won’t be able to ignore Klein’s 3 interception game against Baylor and lack of production throwing the football. A great season for Collin Klein, but not enough to win the Heisman Trophy.

2.) Manti Te’o LB, Notre Dame

2012 Stats: Defensive: 103 tackles (52 solo)  5.5 TFL, 1 sack, 7 INT’s, 2 FF 1 FR

Overview:

It is rare to have a defensive player in serious contention for the Heisman Trophy, but you can’t argue with the season Manti Te’o has had. Te’o has been the driving force behind a Fighting Irish team that rose from the unranked to the No.1 team in the country. It was because of the exceptional play by Te’o and the Notre Dame defense that they were able to make it all the way to the BCS National Championship game. While it is hard to use defensive statistics to build a Heisman case, but you can with Te’o. Te’o racked up 103 tackles on the season, as he flew to the ball carrier on nearly every play. Te’o was also exceptional at reading QB’s and cutting off routes at the right time.Te’o finished the season with 7 interceptions, which tied him for 2nd in the entire country. Even with the numbers they still don’t quite do justice to the type of season Te’o had. He was the sole reason the Notre Dame defense was among the best in the country in nearly every category, and it was because of his defense that the Fighting Irish made it this far. I love Manti Te’o and think he will turn into an All-Pro LB at the next level, but it just isn’t enough this year

1.) Johnny Manziel QB, Texas A&M

2012 Stats: Passing: 273/400 for 3,419 Passing Yards 24 TD’s 8 INT’s

Rushing: 184 carries for 1,181 yards and 19 TD’s

Overview:

Anyone who says a freshman shouldn’t win a Heisman should lose their right to vote. Johnny Manziel is not your typical freshman, and he isn’t your typical QB either. Manziel has shown this season that he can be an impressive passer, completing 68 percent of his throws for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has done this in the toughest division in all of college football and against some of the best defenses in the country. While Manziel has shown his ability to throw the football, it is his legs that have made him a star. Manziel has rushed for 19 touchdowns this season and ran for over 1,100 yards. His 4,600 total yards set an SEC record passing Cam Newton’s record in 2010 (4,327) when Newton went on to win the Heisman Trophy. Many will look back to Manziel’s struggles against LSU and Florida when he threw for a combined 449 yards with zero passing touchdowns and 3 interceptions. I respond to that by pointing out the Florida game was his first ever college start and the first time he started a game since high school and despite that they only lost by 3. As for the LSU game I won’t disagree he played poorly, but so did Robert Griffin III last year against Oklahoma State and he still won the Heisman. Manziel responded just weeks later against then-No.1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and ended the Crimson Tide’s 13 game winning streak. When you look back at past Heisman winners they each have a “Heisman Moment” and this game was just that. There is no doubt in my mind that when you look at what Johnny Manziel did this season and the records he broke, there is no reason he shouldn’t win the award. Johnny Manziel is my Heisman Trophy winner.

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Matt Johnson

I am a sports writer entering my first year in college. I am also a aspiring sports radio host.

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. avatar Michael Karcic

    Great points and research.

     

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