This was my first year with a Heisman vote and–as you would probably guess–I was honored to have one and took the process very seriously.
The purpose of the site is to analyze the politics of the Heisman race, to cover the campaign for the most prestigious award in sports and break down how it is, not how it should be. To that end, I don’t endorse any player on this site and try to do my best to present the reality of the race as I see it. I get emails all the time asking me to influence the race one way or the other, but that is not my role and never will be.
However, now that the votes are in and my opinion will have no bearing on the race, I will now reveal my personal picks for the Heisman. Keep in mind that there are 925 Heisman voters and they all have their own criteria for choosing the winner. Unfortunately, there are only three spots on the ballot, so some pretty good players get short shrift. One thing we have to all remember is that saying one player is great does not necessarily mean another player isn’t. I believe all the players involved in this year’s race are, at the least, very good. All of them are, in their own way, deserving of the Heisman.
My final ballot looked like this:
1. Toby Gerhart
2. Colt McCoy
3. Ndamukong Suh
Why I voted this way
I chose Gerhart because I thought he was simply the most outstanding player I’d seen this year. He was consistently excellent. There is nothing to quibble about with his statistics. His punishing style exemplified his team’s new-found toughness. At times, he singlehandedly willed his team to wins in what I thought was the toughest conference top to bottom in 2009. He did all of it while carrying 21 credit hours in school and while carrying the ball a nation-leading 311 times
(without fumbling once). He led the nation in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns while piling up 10 100-yard games and three 200-yard games. I believe he is going to be a legitimate and productive NFL back. And I have no doubts about his athleticism, as he is also a major league baseball prospect.
When comparing him to other backs, he came out ahead. While Ingram is a very good back, nothing about his skill set really jumped out at me. He’s just solid all around, but to me he lacks the excitement factor when he carries the ball. Without a doubt, he is a tough, low-to-the-ground back with great feet and instincts. And he is productive to a point. But I felt that, while he played well in big games, he wasn’t as consistent as Gerhart was all season. His statistics reflect that–should he win, he’d have the fewest rushing yards by a Heisman-winning back since 1975. So, I see Ingram as a good back who could win a Heisman one day, but this year I don’t see him as being particularly worthy.
It was equally tough keeping C.J. Spiller off my ballot. He does have the excitement factor…and a ton of it at that! He’s a special talent, but again, he lacked the consistency of Gerhart.
The first spot on my ballot went to a running back with exemplary stats and skill, so the second spot I reserved for a quarterback who had led his team to great success. I think Colt McCoy is one of the best college quarterbacks to come around of late and it might be a shame if he never wins a Heisman. Was his season as good as last year’s? No. But I think the pressure he faced week-in and week-out was different for him than for any other candidate. The burden of coming back as the Heisman runner up for a 12-1 team and then being expected to carry your team to even greater heights is not something to be downplayed. I thought McCoy handled it all beautifully, had a good season and got his team to the title game. For that, I gave him my second spot on the ballot.
I chose Ndamukong Suh in third because I felt he deserved some recognition for his dominant season. His performance against Texas was truly breathtaking. However, his overall performance on the year didn’t cross my threshhold of Heisman worthiness. While I think he might be the best player in college football and will prove to be a great pro, I don’t think that he was the ‘most outstanding’ in 2009.
There it is. I picked a running back, a quarterback and a defensive lineman. I’m sure many of you will now rip me for my choices and the reasoning behind them. I would expect nothing less…after all, this is college football we are dealing with!