Why the Heisman is better than ever

Check out my column from Al-Jazeera America on why the Heisman is better than ever.

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An early Heisman list for 2014

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Jameis Winston’s reign as the 2013 Heisman winner is less than 24 hours old, but it’s never too early to start thinking ahead.

Who are the front runners for the 2014 Heisman?

Here’s an early top 10 list based on the information we have now. We think most of these players should be back in 2014. If so, they should enter next fall as serious contenders for the Heisman:

in alphabetical order

Melvin Gordon, Jr., Wisconsin* — With backfield mate James White graduating, Gordon could be set for a monster season in Madison, if he chooses to return for his junior year. He had 1,466 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging eight yards per carry in 2013.

Todd Gurley, Jr., Georgia — When healthy, Gurley might be the best running back in the country. His combination of size and speed are impressive. He rushed for 903 yards and 10 scores and caught 30 passes for five more TDs despite missing three full games and parts of others.

Brett Hundley, Jr., UCLA* — As a sophomore, Hundley had over 3,400 yards of total offense and 31 touchdowns with a very young supporting cast around him. Those players will be a year older and it should result in excellent production for Hundley if he chooses to return.

Myles Jack, So., UCLA — Jack was the Pac-12 freshman of the year on both offense and defense. Heisman voters love throwback players who excel on both sides of the ball — see: Woodson, Charles — and assuming he continues to play both running back and linebacker, he’ll get lots of attention.

Marcus Mariota, Jr., Oregon — Mariota was the Heisman front runner for a large chunk of this season. Losses to Stanford and Arizona knocked him out of the race, but he should be better in 2013. If he can finally get Oregon past Stanford, he’ll probably make a trip to New York.

Nick Marshall, Sr., Auburn — No quarterback in the country improved as much as Marshall did over the course of this season. His 2014 campaign could begin by leading the Tigers to a national championship in January.

Tre Mason, Sr., Auburn* — If Mason chooses to return for another season, he’ll join his teammate as a front runner for 2014. He finished sixth in the Heisman vote this season while rushing for 1,621 yards and 22 scores.

Braxton Miller, Sr., Ohio State* — Miller might’ve won the Heisman this year if an injury hadn’t forced him to miss the better part of three games. Assuming he returns for his senior season, he’ll probably be the early Heisman favorite. He is 24-1 as a starter in the past two seasons.

Bryce Petty, Sr., Baylor — Petty finished seventh in the Heisman vote after throwing for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns with just two interceptions while leading Baylor to the Big 12 title. He could have even better numbers as a senior and, assuming Baylor is again a national title contender, he’ll be in the Heisman conversation.

Bishop Sankey, Sr., Washington* — Sankey is very quietly putting together a brilliant rushing career for the Huskies. He’s got 3,401 yards and 35 touchdowns in three seasons and was third in the country this year with 1,775 yards and 18 scores. If he chooses to come back for another season, he should really flourish in Chris Petersen’s system

T.J. Yeldon, Jr., Alabama — Yeldon notched his second-straight 1,000-yard season despite being limited in some games by an ankle injury. With the Tide set to break in a new quarterback, he could become the main weapon for Alabama in 2014.

* – could enter NFL draft

Wait, what about Jameis Winston?

I don’t have Winston on this list because I believe there will never be another two-time winner of the Heisman. Archie Griffin of Ohio State is the only player to do it, way back in 1974-1975. Since then, Ty Detmer, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford and Johnny Manziel have all failed in their attempts to repeat. The fact that players like Leinart, Tebow and Manziel couldn’t get it done points to how difficult it is to win two trophies. The Heisman electorate is very fickle and, as we saw with Manziel, the punditry tries its best to find reasons not to give away that second Heisman.

Everything has to fall perfectly into place just to win the award once. Winning it twice?

Forget about it.

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Quotes from Jameis Winston, 2013 Heisman Trophy winner

Here are the highlights of Winston at his press conference after winning the 2013 Heisman Trophy:

On winning the Heisman:

“I’m so overwhelmed right now. It feels great to be a part of the family. I can’t explain the feeling I have inside. This is a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

On what he felt when his name was called:

“I was proud. I looked out into the crowd and saw that my mom and dad felt so proud, too. I haven’t seen that look in their eyes for a long time. It comforted me.”

On whether he was nervous he may not win:

“That last commercial break (before the announcement) was rough. I thought I was probably going to win, but you always have that doubt, because anything can happen. After they called my name I wanted to hug the trophy. This is a feeling that I always want to have.”

On what he can learn from Johnny Manziel, the other freshman to win the Heisman

“I will learn from Johnny. We are all evolving.”

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Breaking down the 2013 Heisman vote

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This was a very interesting Heisman vote, particularly the 2nd thru 6th spots.

Here is the breakdown by region:

Northeast Pos. Total Points
Jameis Winston 1 339
Andre Williams 2 132
AJ McCarron 3 130
Jordan Lynch 4 88
Johnny Manziel 5 56
Tre Mason 6 44

 

Mid-Atlantic Pos. Total Points
Jameis Winston 1 366
AJ McCarron 2 112
Andre Williams 3 89
Jordan Lynch 4 80
Tre Mason 5 71
Johnny Manziel 6 63

 

South Pos. Total Points
Jameis Winston 1 390
AJ McCarron 2 128
Tre Mason 3 106
Johnny Manziel 4 93
Jordan Lynch 5 69
Andre Williams 6 65

 

Southwest Pos. Total Points
Jameis Winston 1 395
Johnny Manziel 2 105
AJ McCarron 3 104
Jordan Lynch 4 93
Tre Mason 5 91
Andre Williams 6 56

 

Midwest Pos. Total Points
Jameis Winston 1 353
Jordan Lynch 2 116
AJ McCarron 3 102
Andre Williams 4 72
Tre Mason 5 57
Johnny Manziel 6 50

 

Far West Pos. Total Points
Jameis Winston 1 362
AJ McCarron 2 128
Jordan Lynch 3 112
Andre Williams 4 56
Johnny Manziel 5 54
Tre Mason 8 35

Note: Ka’Deem Carey of Arizona finished sixth in the Far West.

Percentage of tabulated ballots on which the top 6 were named:

Winston — 87%
McCarron — 43%
Lynch — 37%
Williams — 32%
Manziel — 29%
Mason — 25%

Percentage of ballots received by week:

Week 1 — 1%
Week 2 — 18%*
Week 3 — 81%

* — represents all ballots received before games started on Dec. 7, 2013.

Number of ballots received and tabulated — 900 of 928 (97%)

Number of players receiving votes, by place:

First — 15 players
Second — 24
Third — 41
Total players receiving votes — 47
(39 received votes in 2012)

  • Winston is the second freshman to win the Heisman
  • He is the 14th Heisman winner to exceed 2,000 total points
  • He received 668 first place votes, which is 9th all time.
  • Winston had the 7th largest margin of victory at 1,501 points.
  • He received 82% of the total possible points based on ballots received.
  • He is the 19th winner from an undefeated team (regular season).
  • At 19 years, 342 days, he is the youngest player to win the Heisman.

That’s all for tonight. We’ll have more breakdown of the vote tomorrow.

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Jameis Winston wins 2013 Heisman Trophy

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Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston won the 2013 Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, capturing the prestigious award by a landslide margin.

He’s the third Seminole to win the Heisman, joining 1993 winner Charlie Ward and 2000 winner Chris Weinke.

Winston swept the six Heisman voting regions and totaled 2,205 points, 1,501 points ahead of runner up A.J. McCarron of Alabama. It was the seventh-largest margin of victory in Heisman history.

Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois placed third, Andrew Williams of Boston College was fourth, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M was fifth and Tre Mason of Auburn was sixth.

Winston was left off of 115 ballots.

Here’s the top 10 in the vote:

Player 1st 2nd 3rd Total Points
Jameis Winston 668 84 33 2,205
AJ McCarron 79 162 143 704
Jordan Lynch 40 149 140 558
Andre Williams 29 127 129 470
Johnny Manziel 30 103 125 421
Tre Mason 31 121 69 404
Bryce Petty 4 40 35 127
Derek Carr 6 23 43 107
Braxton Miller 4 21 37 91
Ka’Deem Carey 2 14 36 70
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Almost time for the show

The start of the 2013 Heisman ceremony is less than an hour away. Here’s all six finalists with the Heisman Trophy, together in their suits for the first time:

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HP’s Final Projection

It’s Heisman Saturday, which means it’s time for my prediction on how the final vote will fall.

We know who’s going to win. The intrigue is over who will occupy the two through six spots. The first projection is my own. The second projection is from my straw poll.

2013 HeismanPundit Heisman Projection

Player Place Best Region Worst Region Projected Points
Jameis Winston 1 Mid Atlantic South 2,200 – 2,400 points
Jordan Lynch 2 Midwest South 500 – 600 points
Tre Mason 3 South Midwest 450 – 550 points
Andre Williams 4 Northeast South 400 – 500 points
Johnny Manziel 5 Southwest Mid-Atlantic 350 – 450 points
AJ McCarron 6 South Midwest 250 – 350 points
Bryce Petty 7 Southwest South 75 – 125 points
Marcus Mariota 8 Far West South 50 – 100 points
Derek Carr 9 Far West South 30 – 80 points
Braxton Miller 10 Midwest South 25 – 75 points

 

The Final HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll

Player Place Points First Place Votes # of Ballots
Jameis Winston 1 23 7 8
Jordan Lynch 2 8 2 4
Tre Mason 3 7 1 3
Johnny Manziel 3 7 0 4
AJ McCarron 5 6 0 4
Marcus Mariota 6 2 0 1
Derek Carr 6 2 0 1
Andre Williams 8 1 0 1
Bryce Petty 8 1 0 1
Aaron Donald 8 1 0 1
Teddy Bridgewater 8 1 0 1
Shayne Skov 8 1 0 1
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