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Heisman hopefuls

Trophy near-lock to land in Big 12

November 12, 2008

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If the college football season ended today, who is most deserving of the Heisman Trophy?

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Big 12 winners

Here's a list of Heisman Trophy winners from Big 12 schools dating back to the first year of the award in 1935:

1952: Billy Vessels, Oklahoma

1957: John David Crow, Texas A&M

1969: Steve Owens, Oklahoma

1972: Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska

1977: Earl Campbell, Texas

1978: Billy Sims, Oklahoma

1983: Mike Rozier, Nebraska

1988: Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State

1994: Rashaan Salaam, Colorado

1998: Ricky Williams, Texas

2001: Eric Crouch, Nebraska

2003: Jason White, Oklahoma

Three players in the Big 12 era have won the Heisman Memorial Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding player in college football at the end of each season.

Barring any outrageous circumstance, the conference will add a fourth in 2008. This player would join Ricky Williams (Texas, 1998), Eric Crouch (Nebraska, 2001) and Jason White (Oklahoma, 2003) in striking the famous pose.

The only question is ... who will it be?

"I'd definitely go with one of our guys," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said on Monday's Big 12 teleconference. "I think as far as leading our team and being key, probably (quarterback) Graham (Harrell), you know?"

Honestly, it's tough not to know by now. The Big 12 is flooding the Heisman ballot with potential winners: Harrell, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree. The Big 12 has four of the top five contenders. Throw into the mix Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman last year, and there are your likely top five candidates.

"Crab and I deserve it, but if I had to vote, I'd give it to Crab," Harrell said on a conference call of Crabtree.

The Red Raider duo has a Web site - passorcatch2008.com - that campaigns for their cause. With Tech at No. 2 in the BCS, Harrell looks like the safest bet at this point.

Here's a quick breakdown and key stats that will affect each candidate's chances:

Graham Harrell, senior QB, Texas Tech

For: 4,077 passing yards, 36 TD's, 5 INT's; only player in college football with more than 4,000 total yards; Tech only undefeated team in Big 12.

Against: Hmm. Right now, nothing. If he plays poorly at Oklahoma on Nov. 22, Bradford or McCoy could leapfrog him. He'd have to play really poorly, though.

Michael Crabtree, sophomore WR, Texas Tech

For: 18 TD receptions lead nation; has caught a TD in every game this season.

Against: His teammate Harrell.

Sam Bradford, sophomore QB, Oklahoma

For: 38 TD passes lead nation; 3,406 passing yards second only to Harrell.

Against: McCoy's team beat Sooners in the storied Red River Rivalry.

Colt McCoy, junior QB, Texas

For: 77.96 completion percentage leads nation; 2,879 passing yards, 28 TD's and 7 INT's; also has 449 yards rushing.

Against: Fewer passing yards and TD's than Harrell and Bradford; UT also lost to Texas Tech.

Tim Tebow, junior QB, Florida

For: 1,740 passing yards, 27 total TD's; Florida has won five straight games, but last year's winner is a long shot to repeat.

Against: Statistically behind most Big 12 candidates.

Long shots:

Chase Daniel (Missouri), Shonn Greene (Iowa), Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State).

What Keegan says

If it was just the system and not the quarterback executing the system, then every coach in the country would adopt Mike Leach's variation of the spread offense, go undefeated and achieve a No. 2 national ranking.

To give all the credit to the coach and none to the most important player would miss the point of how remarkably Graham Harrell has performed this season in throwing for a best-in-the-nation 4,077 yards while throwing 36 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

Other Big 12 quarterbacks - Colt McCoy of Texas, Missouri's Chase Daniel and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford - all have had huge seasons, and so have versatile threats Jeremy Maclin of Missouri and Javon Ringer of Michigan State, but as of now, it's Harrell who deserves the Heisman Trophy.

- Tom Keegan

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