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MailTribune.com
  • HEISMAN HOPEFULS

  • JOHNNY MANZIEL
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  • JOHNNY MANZIEL
    • School: Texas A&M
    • Year: Redshirt freshman
    • Position: Quarterback
    Why he'll win it — He has the coolest nickname - Johnny Football - and is the most dynamic of the finalists, and Heisman voters have loved that kind of player during the past two years. Remember Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton? Plus, Manziel has the eye-popping numbers: 4,600 total yards, which surpasses Newton's SEC standard. Manziel is responsible for 21.5 points per game by rushing or passing touchdowns and had 70 plays of 20 or more yards, 10 more than anybody else in college football. Oh, and he comes complete with a Heisman moment. Maybe not a moment as much as a day, Nov. 10. That's when the Manziel-led Aggies defeated top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Manziel is also the Davey O'Brien award winner as the nation's best QB - and five of the last six O'Brien winners have also won the Heisman.
    Why he won't — Manziel is a redshirt freshman, and no freshman or redshirt freshman has won the trophy. One, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, finished second in 2004. Such reluctance has melted away over the years, hasn't it?
    Texas A&M's best Heisman finish — RB John David Crow won in 1957.
    MANTI TE'O
    • School: Notre Dame
    • Year: Senior
    • Position: Linebacker
    Why he'll win it — Best player on the top-ranked team is usually a slam dunk for the Heisman, if that player is a quarterback or running back. But linebacker? On a team defined by defense, Te'o is a one-man wrecking crew. He has already been chosen winner of the Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player and Butkus Award for top linebacker. Te'o has eye-popping stats: 103 total tackles (42 more than the next Notre Dame player) and seven interceptions. The picks ranked third nationally and first among linebackers. Te'o came up with huge interceptions in the season-defining victory at Oklahoma, and led the goal-line stand against Stanford. Notre Dame leads the nation in scoring defense at 10.3 and is the only team in the nation that hasn't surrendered a touchdown drive of longer than 75 yards.
    Why he won't — Heisman plays favorites with positions. The only defensive player to win the award is Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson in 1997, and he returned kicks and caught a pass occasionally. The only top five finishers in voting among defenders since Woodson were Nebraska tackle Ndamukong Suh (fourth in 2009) and LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (fifth last year).
    Notre Dame's best Heisman finish — First, seven times. Last won by WR Tim Brown in 1987.
    COLLIN KLEIN
    • School: Kansas State
    • Year: Senior
    • Position: Quarterback
    Why he'll win it — C'mon, one bad game and he's out of it? That's what the straw polls indicate, but perhaps there's a silent majority out there who overlooked Klein's three-pick game at Baylor and credited him with being the best leader in college football. Klein was responsible for 37 touchdowns this season. He has rushed for a touchdown in 11 straight games, the longest streak in college football. And he's a great story, lightly recruited out of high school, got on the field initially for K-State as a wide receiver and has become only the second K-State player after Michael Bishop in 1998 to become a Heisman finalist from his school.
    Why he won't — That Baylor game cost Klein in the polls, and it happened late in the season. The Heisman loves upper-class quarterbacks, but this is a year where a freshman and defensive player might have caught the voters' fancy.
    Kansas State's best finish — Second by QB Michael Bishop in 1998.
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