Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Evolving is the name of the game in just
about every facet of life. If you remain stagnant, times will pass you by.
The Heisman Trophy is no different.
This year's three finalists were certainly worthy of their trip to the Big
Apple last weekend, but in the end, it was really a two-horse race, as Kansas
State's Colin Klein (894 points, 60 first-place votes), was a distant
third in the voting behind a freshman and a defensive stalwart.
The Heisman voters were charged with bucking conventional thinking and
seriously deciding between a freshman with big numbers or a linebacker with
good numbers and an elite resume. Either way the vote came down, it would
represent a first in the history of the award.
Notre Dame's Manti Te'o definitely made it interesting. He racked up some
strong numbers in 2012 (103 tackles, seven INTs) and was widely regarded as
the ultimate leader for one of the nation's premier defenses, a unit that
allowed just 10 touchdowns all year long.
Te'o picked up lots of hardware as a result, capturing this year's Butkus
Award, Nagurski Award, Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award, the Walter Camp Player
of the Year Award and the Maxwell Award, becoming the first player in NCAA
history to pick up six national awards. That resume alone made Te'o the first-
ever strictly defensive player (Charles Woodson won the award in 1997 but also
played on offense and special teams for Michigan) to seriously vie for the
Heisman and there would have been little argument across the nation had the
voters decided to go that route.
However, the Heisman was just outside of his grasp, as the senior finished
with 1,706 points, with 321 first-place votes. In the end, it was Texas A&M's
Johnny Manziel who squeaked out the Heisman, capturing the award with 2,029
points, thanks to 474 first-place votes.
Manziel may have burst on the scene this season as a freshman in College
Station, but he definitely played like a much older, much more savvy player,
coming up huge when it counted the most.
Florida's Tim Tebow set the SEC single-season record for offensive yards in
2007 en route to his Heisman. Auburn's Cam Newton broke that record just three
years later and took home the Heisman in 2010.
Manziel exceeded Newton's historic season with even better numbers, completing
64 percent of his passes, for 3,419 yards, with 24 touchdowns and just eight
interceptions. He also added 1,181 yards rushing and 19 more touchdowns and
set the SEC record for total offensive yards with 4,600.
Not even on the radar prior to the season and a Heisman long shot midway
through the campaign, Manziel climbed the ladder to the top with his clutch
performance against defending national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa, as the
Aggies upset the then top-ranked Crimson Tide, mostly on big plays by their
young QB, who wasn't fazed by the huge stage and spotlight on the situation.
Having a defining "Heisman moment" is always a plus for a candidate and
Manziel used his to the fullest, claiming the 78th annual award this past
weekend. The Davey O'Brien Award winner and SEC Offensive Player of the Year,
became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman and just the second player
in Texas A&M history (John David Crow in 1957) to take home the most coveted
piece of individual hardware in the sport.
The closest a freshman had come to winning the Heisman was Oklahoma's Adrian
Peterson in 2004, but the now NFL superstar, came in second place to USC's
Affectionately known as "Johnny Football," Manziel can now add "Johnny
Heisman" to his growing list of monikers.
Reaching the sports zenith at such a young age comes with its own set of
problems though and Manziel will really need to continue to mature as a player
and a young man to avoid complacency and add to a story that has started off
more like a fairytale.
Could Manziel add a second Heisman to his trophy case?
A tall task in deed - but earning the first one was probably viewed as nearly
impossible a few short months ago.
Betting against Manziel at this point may not be the wisest of moves.
The Sports Network