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Heisman Trophy – College Football’s Player of the Year Award – Week Six
With each passing week the field of legitimate Heisman candidates comes
more clearly into focus. A high level of consistency becomes increasingly
important when competing at this level. Some of the players we have followed
up to this point in the season are worthy of recognition for their contributions to
their teams’ success, but they may be slipping slowly out of contention for the
Heisman. On the list of serious candidates we still find Ohio State’s Troy Smith,
Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, Northern Illinois’ Garrett Wolfe, West Virginia’s
Steve Slaton, and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn. While there are others who
deserve a mention, they will need great personal performances and a little
luck now to catch those listed above. These players include Mike Hart of
Michigan, Kenny Irons of Auburn, Ray Rice of Rutgers, and perhaps a second
player from Michigan we are all hearing more about these days, Mario Manningham.
If you watched Ohio State play Bowling Green and kept a close eye on Troy Smith
you will have no doubt why he is currently considered the leader in the race for the
2006 Heisman Trophy. Troy possesses the rare ability to scramble for yards and
to throw pin-point accurate passes. His poise and maturity are on display every
snap of the ball. Troy sat out a few plays on Saturday with a minor injury, which
once again reminds us how fragile success at this level can be. One play can
change a game, a player’s season, his potential for the Heisman, and in some cases
his career. Let’s hope each of our Heisman candidates can stay healthy and
continue to play at the level we have come to expect, and enjoy.
Oklahoma’s loss to Texas will have an impact on Heisman voters’ perception of
Adrian Peterson. Winning records carry weight with Heisman voters. Although
Adrian’s play has been remarkable at times, there have been a few moments of
questionable play as well. Those who watched this week’s game will remember Adrian’s
dropped pass that was ruled a lateral allowing Texas to score a defensive touchdown.
Can a single moment like this take away Adrian’s chances of winning the Heisman?
Probably not, but he will need to keep his focus in upcoming games to elevate his game
and his chances of being our Heisman winner in New York.
There may not be enough superlatives to describe Northern Illinois’ Garrett Wolfe.
He continues to live up to pre-season expectations – and maybe then some. Garrett’s
stats speak for themselves. At the end of this season we won’t be surprised at all
if in addition to many school records Garrett enjoys a few NCAA Division 1-A records as
well. For his consistency and high output Garrett gets my vote as a clear second to
Troy Smith. For me it is hard not to like Garrett’s on-field performances and to be pulling
for him to score a Heisman upset.
Steve Slaton, West Virginia, rarely disappoints, and his 185 yards against Mississippi
State was another reason why. As long as Steve continues to put up big numbers
he will continue to be a serious candidate for this year’s Heisman. No doubt Steve is
a big part of the reason why West Virginia is 5-0 and highly ranked in the polls. Steve
has proven week in and week out that he deserves to be compared to the Troy Smiths,
Garrett Wolfes, and Adrian Petersons of the college football world.
What can be said about Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn? Just when you think he has done something
to take himself out of the running for the Heisman, he steps up and makes big plays or has
the kind of game that will keep him in the running. Playing quarterback for Notre Dame will
get you plenty of attention on its own, and having over 1,600 yards passing at the season’s
half-way point will keep that attention focused on you. Of all the players discussed up to this
point, Brady may have the most remote chance of winning the Heisman. His play has been
spotty at times this year, but like I said, he keeps making good things happen at the right times
and that will keep him on the Heisman short list.
Michigan currently has two players worth discussing here, Michael Hart and Mario Manningham.
Most college football experts expected Michael Hart to be a Heisman contender this year, but
his teammate, “Super Mario”, has somewhat come out of no where to light up the screens with
sensational catch after sensational catch. If Mario continues in this fashion, it is likely that in
several weeks we will be talking solely about Mario’s Heisman run and Michael Hart will be a
distant memory. Only time will tell, but for now Michael continues to play well enough to be
considered as having an outside chance of making it to New York.
Auburn’s loss significantly hurt their rankings and mediocre play by Kenny Irons certainly
did not help his chances to win the Heisman. In order to recover from this he will have to have
several huge performances to move himself back into contention. If Kenny has one thing
going for him it is that sports fans and writers have short memories. A few killer performances
at the right time of the season can launch a player or team back into the stratosphere of college
Last week’s article mentioned Rutger’s Ray Rice. Rutgers remained in the top 25 of both
the AP and USA Today polls this week despite a scheduled week off. We will have to
see Ray’s next game to know which direction he will move in the race for the Heisman. At
this point, he has played well enough to get serious attention from many sports writers and
fans. Is the half-way point of the season too late for a player to mount an attack for the title
of college football’s premier player? In the coming weeks Ray will answer this question for us
There is never a shortage of excitement, suspense, or upset in college football. Although any
player worthy of mention on this or any other list of Heisman hopefuls could triumph in New York
this year, any of them could just as quickly fade into the background due to injury, poor play, the
rise of an unexpected candidate, or myriad other reasons. As fans we are lucky enough to sit
back and enjoy the athleticism and excitement that makes this race worth watching. Personally,
I am looking forward to another great week of college football.
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