Hunter Jarmon doesn't want Sean Mannion to get a big head.
Jarmon hears the talk from the few national analysts who are high on Oregon State's junior quarterback, and surely he sees that many mentions of Mannion on Twitter have turned into "HEISMannion." So the freshman receiver, whose locker is right next to Mannion's, teases him plenty about all this Heisman talk.
It's playful and done in respect, but Jarmon better be ready to go the whole season. Because the way Mannion is playing, this chatter won't stop anytime soon.
And it shouldn't. Mannion's numbers are staggering, especially for someone who began fall camp unsure if he would start. Through six games, Mannion has totaled 2,511 passing yards and 25 touchdowns with just three interceptions. No other quarterback is within 200 yards or six touchdowns.
But because the Beavers have played the easier part of their schedule early in the season, some people aren't taking him seriously as a contender. And because so many of his starts have come late — the Beavers have already played three games that have kicked at 5 p.m. or later, and another is on the way this weekend, with a 7:30 start time at Cal — lots of East Coasters aren't awake to see him shine. It is worth noting, however, that ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit has declared himself a Mannion fan and a Beaver believer. But he doesn't have much company.
The argument about a soft schedule needs to be abandoned. Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville aren't exactly playing Murderers' Row, but his name pops up on TV whenever someone wants to talk about the Heisman. Marcus Mariota at Oregon got plenty of attention (and deservedly so) long before the Ducks actually ran into a team that could give them at least half a game. Isn't Mannion deserving of some hype?
At the very least, he's deserving of some earlier start times. Mike Riley doesn't like back-to-back 7:30 p.m. road starts because its wreaks havoc on his student-athletes' sleep schedules. But the Pac-12, which is still trying to turn itself into a national brand, could do itself a favor by putting one of its best players in prime time and giving everyone else a chance to see him. It would be especially good to do against someone like, oh, Stanford, which will come to Corvallis on Oct. 26 with a national ranking.
Receiver Kevin Cummings, who called Mannion's single-game school-record 493 passing yards Saturday night at Washington State both "ridiculous" and "just another day at the office," says that once the Beavers win a couple more games, Mannion will be a staple in the Heisman talk.
Brandin Cooks, on the other hand, is ticked his quarterback isn't already being talked about by everyone.
"A no-brainer," proclaims the star receiver, the most frequent recipient of Mannion's passes. "He needs to be in every conversation."
It's not in Riley's nature to stand at a podium and lobby for his guys to win awards, and Mannion wants no part of the Heisman talk. He prefers to gush about his teammates, though he admits after some pressing that it's "an honor. It's something every little kid thinks about when they're watching college football."
Mannion is so caught up in his team instead of his own stats that he had no idea he'd broken a couple school records Saturday night, including connecting with Cooks for a program-high 18 touchdown receptions. His response: "Oh, have we? Geez."
Asked Saturday night if he feels like no one is mentioning the Beavers as a contender in the Pac-12 North because of a season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, Mannion brushed aside the perceived snub.
"It is what it is," he said. "We feel good about our team, and we feel like we're getting better each week. Our perspective is, keep winning and let everything else take care of itself. If we continue to play good football, only good things are going to happen."
And for Mannion, one of those good things might be some continued ribbing from a gutsy freshman. Because as long as Hunter Jarmon is giving Mannion a hard time, it means the quarterback is doing something right. And maybe a few more people are seeing him do it.