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Photo highlights from the 2012 pre-Heisman press conference

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Final Heisman prediction: Breaking down the vote

Happy Heisman eve, everyone.

By this time on Sunday, the 78th Heisman winner will still be recovering from a night of well-deserved celebration and festivities in the Big Apple.

But who is that winner going to be and what will be the shape of his win?

Here’s my prediction of the totals on the night before the ceremony:

The order of finish

1. Johnny Manziel

2. Manti Te’o

3. Collin Klein

4. Braxton Miller

5. Marqise Lee

6. AJ McCarron

7. Jordan Lynch

8. Jarvis Jones

9. Kenjon Barner

10. Tavon Austin

Point totals

Many are predicting a landslide for Manziel, but I think it’ll be a comfortable-but-not-too-close win on the order of the margin by which Gino Torretta won in 1992:

Manziel — 1,900 points

Te’o — 1,500 points

Klein — 1,000 points

Braxton Miller — 250 points

Marqise Lee — 180 points

The Regions

The Heisman electorate is divided into six different regions. Here’s how I see the top 3 falling in each of them:

The South — (1) Manziel (2) Klein (3) Te’o

The Southwest — (1) Manziel (2) Klein (3) Te’o

The Midwest — (1) Te’o (2) Manziel (3) Miller

The Far West — (1) Manziel (2) Te’o (3) Lee

The Mid-Atlantic — (1) Manziel (2) Te’o (3) Klein

The Northeast — (1) Manziel (2) Te’o (3) Klein

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Pre-Heisman press conference coming up

We’ll be live-streaming the pre-Heisman press conference over at Heisman Central starting at 3 p.m. ET.

To watch, click on the Heisman Central 2012 icon on the right or just click here.

Also, you can get all kinds of photo updates from the weekend by following us on Instragram, username: heismanpundit.

We’ll have photos and higlights from the press conference at Heisman Central shortly after it ends.

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Total touchdowns and the Heisman

On Wednesday we posted about total offense and its correlation to Heisman winners. Continuing in that vein, here are the highest total touchdown seasons for Heisman winners, including their bowl games:

1. Tim Tebow, Florida, 2007 — 55

1. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, 2008 — 55

3. Cameron Newton, Auburn, 2010 — 50

4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor, 2011 — 47

5. Andre Ware, Houston, 1989 — 46

6. Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, 1988 –44

7. Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990 –41

7. Jason White, Oklahoma, 2003 –41

9. Danny Wuerffel, Florida, 1996 — 39

10. Carson Palmer, USC, 2002 — 37

Eight of the 10 total touchdown leaders are also found on the total offense list posted on Wednesday (Wuerffel and Sanders were not). Not surprisingly, the last four Heisman-winning ‘Super Quarterbacks’ comprise the top four of the total touchdown list while 2009 winner Mark Ingram is not in the top 25. Barry Sanders is the only non-quarterback on the list.

Johnny Manziel’s pre-bowl game total of 43 scores would currently put him at seventh on the all time list of total touchdowns by Heisman winners but he could move into a tie for third with RG3 if he has a four touchdown game in the Cotton Bowl.

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The youngest Heisman winners

If and when Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman on Saturday, he will be the first freshman player to do so. He will not, however,  be the youngest player to win the prestigious award. That distinction belongs to Alabama’s Mark Ingram.

Manziel entered Texas A&M in the spring of 2011, and after this semester, will have the academic standing of a junior. In 2009, Ingram was a true sophomore and celebrates a late December birthday . When Ingram won the award in 2009, he was just 19 years, 356 days old. Manziel celebrated his 20th birthday yesterday (December 6) and by tomorrow he will be the second-youngest winner at 20 years two days old, just 11 days older than Ingram was when he won.

Manziel will become the ninth player to win the award as a 20 year old (Reggie Bush also won at 20).

Youngest Heisman winners

1. Mark Ingram — 19 years, 356 days

2. Johnny Manziel — 20 years, 2 days*

3. Rashaan Salaam — 20 years, 63 days

4. Archie Griffin — 20 years, 105 days

5. Tim Tebow — 20 years, 117 days

6. Barry Sanders — 20 years, 141 days

7. Herschel Walker — 20 years, 277 days

8. Vic Janowicz — 20 years, 283 days

9. Reggie Bush — 20 years, 284 days

10. Doc Blanchard — 20 years, 357 days

* – if he wins

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Q & A with 1957 Heisman winner John David Crow

Texas A&M running back John David Crow won the Heisman in 1957.

Born in Springhill, La., he was recruited to College Station by Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant and, at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, he was an atypically large back for his era.

By his senior year, he was dominant on both sides of the ball. Despite missing roughly three games due to injury, he rushed for 562 yards and six touchdowns, caught two passes and threw five touchdown strikes. On defense, he had five interceptions.

Bryant told Heisman voters that “they should do away with the thing” if they didn’t vote for Crow. They heeded the legendary coach, giving Crow the trophy over defensive tackle Alex Karras of Iowa. Crow went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL, making his way to four Pro Bowls. He also coached with Bryant at Alabama and at Northeast Louisiana University before become athletic director at NLU.

He currently lives in College Station, Texas, and I got a hold of him on the phone on Thursday as he was packing for his trip to New York City to witness Johnny Manziel at the Heisman ceremony:

Have you been back to NYC in recent years, or is this your first time in a while?

“We didn’t make it last year, but we made it the year before, when Cam Newton won it. I don’t really recall when I came back again for the first time before that. When they presented it to me, I then went on to play football for 11 years. I definitely didn’t go back in those days because I was always playing in December. I don’t think I went during the years that I coached. It was probably in the neighborhood of 50 years later. I don’t think they invited people back for a while.”

Did you have any Heisman expectations heading into your senior season?

“It wasn’t on the radar. I recall Jones Ramsey was our SID back then and he called me down for something one day. I don’t think I’d ever been in his office to that point. There was a picture of this award there. I asked him what that was and he told me what it was. It was just another award or something to me. I had no idea that I would ever proceed to even be all-Southwest conference. I had no idea what it was or the possibility of winning something like that.”

Had you heard about or idolized any Heisman winners prior to winning?

“In Springhill, La., we only got papers from Shreveport and I think that was only on Saturday or Sunday. Doak Walker was the only person I knew because he was in the Shreveport Times a lot because he played for SMU. To be very honest with you, I didn’t read very much of the paper back then. I don’t think many juniors and seniors in high school did.”

What made you decide to go to Texas A&M?

“I didn’t know anything about Texas A&M and I wouldn’t have gone if not for coach Elmer Smith, who coached my brother at a small school in south Arkansas. We went to all the games and I’d sit on the sideline and got to know coach Elmer and when coach (Bear) Bryant hired him he came and recruited me, and convinced my mother and dad and myself to be an Aggie.”

You were injured for part of your senior year, right?

“I got my knee hurt in the Maryland game, which was the first one. It was right before half time. I didn’t play against Texas Tech the next game and then I played just three plays against Missouri. So you might say I missed two-and-a-half games my senior year.”

What was it like to win the Heisman back then?

“It was something I had never dreamed of. I didn’t even know anything like it went on in the United States. It was not something you talked about back then like we do now. I’m so happy that it has become what it has, not just because we have one here in our house, but because it’s good for college football. I love the fact that everyone is talking about freshman winning or whatever, but the award is presented to the most outstanding college football player who played football this year. I think he (Johnny Manziel) is without a doubt the most outstanding.”

What was your trip to New York like when you were given the trophy?

“It was great. We had dinner on the 13th floor of the Downtown Athletic Club and we could see the Statue of Liberty out the window. The night of the presentation, they had a bunch of microphones sitting there at the podium for CBS, NBC and all that, but the only one I saw was from Movie Tone which was the one that you saw in the movie theaters when I was growing up. Those were the newsreels which ran when you went to go get popcorn. I recognized that mic and thought I might be seen in the movie theaters back in Springhill. But you can’t even compare it to the way it is today. I’m so fortunate and so happy that it’s changed.”

Gary Beban, who won in 1967, once told me that you were his hero growing up. Over the years, have you noticed the impact that your Heisman win has had on other people?

“That is awfully nice of Gary to say and I look up to him and he’s a very good person. That’s the first I’ve heard that and that’s very, very nice of him to say. I’ve never looked at it like I did anything. I swear to you, I never looked at it that way. I went to New York on behalf of the coaching staff, my teammates, the 12th man, the managers and the trainers. I accepted the award on behalf of them. I’m just keeping it for them. Football is the ultimate team sport. No one can do anything in football if you don’t have a little help. Of course some people can make marvelous plays and, rightfully so, they should be patted on the back for that. But still when you get right down to it, winning and losing the game is the most important thing. That’s what the Heisman award stands for — helping your teammates win games.”

When did you first get a chance to watch Johnny Manziel play?

“I hadn’t gone to a practice this year and then I didn’t want to go after a while because I’m a bit superstitious. The first time I saw him was in games. I was obviously shocked when I saw him, as were a lot of people, because of the things that he can do. Kevin Sumlin and his staff have done a great job with the whole team and with him. I still think he does things that you can’t coach. It’s instinct, he was born with it. I’d like someone to explain to me how he made that play against Alabama where he got the ball knocked out of his hand, reversed himself and found the receiver in the end zone. Just ridiculous.”

You finally met and talked with him recently. What did you talk about with him?

“We talked briefly. I tried to tell him to keep on acting the way he’s acting and keep on doing the things he’s doing, respect his mom and dad and go have fun. What else can you tell him? Saturday night we all hope we can walk away very, very happy. If not, he’s still got to play Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl anyway.”

What will him winning the Heisman mean to you?

“It’s exciting but sometimes I think things like this are overplayed, unless it’s happening to you. I’m more interested in getting this done Saturday and then we’ll have this forever. It won’t matter what happened last year. You’ve got to look toward the year coming up and try to improve.”

Are you looking forward to all the attention you are sure to receive this weekend when you come to New York?

“I think my cell phone number got out, so they might find me. I’ve never been through this. I hear there will be an awful lot of autograph seekers out there, not so much for guys like me but for the younger guys. I’m looking forward to going up there for Saturday night. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to all the hullabaloo that’s going to go on between when we get there and when the ceremony starts. Still it’s an honor for someone who I’ve never met to want to come up and see us and say hi and talk about a subject that really means a great deal to me, because it’s A&M. It’s my school and it’s done very, very well by me and the coach that coached here while I was here…there’s no doubt in my mind that he was the greatest coach that ever walked on this earth. And my teammates were the best as well. So I’m looking forward to it.”

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Freshmen, Johnny Manziel and the Heisman

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know by now that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is about to become the first freshman to win the Heisman in the 78-year history of the prestigious award.

Time will tell if this is merely a quirk of circumstance or the beginning of a larger trend for the trophy. But it’s worth looking back to put in proper context the impressiveness of Manziel’s pending feat.

Keep in mind that for a good chunk of the past 78 years, freshmen were not eligible to play college football. Although freshmen were given a pass during World War II and Korea, they were not given full eligibility until 1972.

Freshmen in the Heisman Vote

Name School Year Finish
Clint Castleberry Georgia Tech 1942 3rd
Herschel Walker Georgia 1980 3rd
Emmitt Smith Florida 1989 7th
Marshall Faulk San Diego State 1991 9th
Michael Vick* Virginia Tech 1999 3rd
Adrian Peterson Oklahoma 2004 2nd
Johnny Manziel* Texas A&M 2012 ???

* — Redshirt freshman

Of this group, Walker, Vick and Peterson probably had the best arguments for winning the Heisman. Walker was the seminal player of the 1980 season and he dominated while leading his team to the national title. Vick led the nation in passing efficiency and guided his team to the BCS title game. Peterson came the closest to winning, but he had the misfortune of competing with Matt Leinart, the face of a juggernaut USC dynasty that tended in those days to suck all the publicity air out of the room, and his own teammate, Jason White.

So why has it been so hard for freshmen to break through over the years?

There are a couple explanations that make the most sense.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to the Heisman is that it’s an election. It’s an honor that is voted on by about 926 voters from around the country. As with any election, it helps when those who are voting know as much as possible about the person for whom they are voting. And so, the importance of name recognition can’t be overstated.

Therefore, freshmen are, by virtue of their class status, at a significant disadvantage when it comes to this. It stands to reason that a player who has three or four years under his belt is more likely to be be better known by voters than a player who is in his first year playing. Coming into this season, players like Matt Barkley and Montee Ball figured prominently into the preseason calculus. They appeard on magazine covers and on television and most voters knew their resumes and their faces. A player like Manziel had a lot of ground to make up in this regard. It can happen, but it’s rare. It certainly helps when you have a catchy nickname.

The other factor that can hurt a freshman is the subconscious bias that some voters might have in favor of upperclassmen, partially because of the name recognition issue already pointed out. Given the choice between a talented freshman and a talented senior, the voter is more likely to pick the latter since it’s the last opportunity to honor that player and he knows him so well. Meanwhile, the thought could be that there will be plenty of more opportunities to select the freshman since he has at least one or two more years left to play.

For a non-football example of this mentality, consider the Academy Awards of 1970. The choice that year for Best Actor was John Wayne, who beat out youngsters Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, among others. Wayne’s illustrious Hollywood career was in its twilight and, to that point, he lacked any type of prestigious honor from his peers. Voters gave him the Oscar over the young guys because they knew it was probably their last chance to do so.

We’ve seen a few Heismans given out with that thought in mind over the years and, perhaps, more than a couple freshmen and sophomores were spurned as a result.

But every year is different. No matter your class status, everything has to fall perfectly into place to win the Heisman. For Manziel to get here, it required an evisceration of the entire preseason Heisman field, some stumbling by a few better-known dark horses at midseason, record production on his part and an unlikely upset of a No. 1 team on its home turf. For those in the prediction and analysis business, this type of combination of events is better known as a Black Swan.

If Manziel wins the Heisman, does that mean he was a better player than his freshman forebears? Not necessarily. It just means he was the right freshman in the right place at the right time.

Saturday night, that’s going to be a pretty cool place to be.

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