Who Will Win the Heisman?
BFS takes a look at the front-runners in the Heisman Trophy Race
Published: Winter 2003
One of the most coveted awards in college sports is the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award. The Heisman, which was first awarded in 1936, is given at the end of the regular season to the young man considered the best player in college football. Predicting who will win is the subject of countless editorials by sportswriters and armchair quarterbacks. Everyone has an opinion, but no one can collect their bets until the Trophy is presented at the end of the year by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City.
The Heisman is named for John W. Heisman, the first athletic director of the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City. The trophy sculpture was designed by Coach Jim Crowley and modeled by Warren Mulrey, a starter on the 1934 Fordham Rams football team. Although quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers from major football powerhouses are most likely to win the Heisman, any player, playing offense or defense, from any college, is eligible to win the award.
The Heisman vote is actually rather simple. The nation is split into six sections (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, Southwest, Far West), each consisting of 175 media voters culled from the print, radio and television ranks. Also, every past Heisman winner casts a vote as well. Each elector casts a ballot listing his top three choices, with the top choice receiving three points, the second receiving two and the third receiving one. This method was adopted with the idea of eliminating regional favoritism, and the player receiving the highest number of points across all six sections is the winner.
Jason White, Oklahoma, Sr., QB
Unlike last year at midseason when it was anybody's guess who would win the Heisman, this year it's Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jason White who is the top vote-getter among coaches and the media. As quarterback of an 8-0 team that seems destined for another national championship, White has thrown for 2,296 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four interceptions. At 6'3" and 221 pounds, White should also rate high in the NFL draft.
Jason White led his Tuttle High School team to a 23-2 record in Oklahoma. His high school football coach, Phillip Koons said, “Jason was one of those few skill kids who was really dedicated to power cleans and snatches and he did them from the 7th grade on. Jason would always make his workouts all year round and that is remarkable because he also played basketball and baseball. It was like eating breakfast; you never miss because it becomes an established habit. Jason’s teammates rallied around him because he led by such a hard work ethic example.”
Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh, Soph., WR
The biggest obstacle this 6'3" 210-pound receiver for Pittsburgh faces in the Heisman race-besides Jason White-is the fact that he's only a sophomore. But that's about it. Heisman voters tend to like seniors. But when it comes to numbers, Fitzgerald has 1,018 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games, a new Big East record. He has also tied the NCAA record of scoring a touchdown in 13 straight games, a record set last season by Michigan State's Charles Rogers.
Kevin Jones, Virginia Tech, Jr., RB
When West Virginia kept this 6'0" 209-pound junior to just 57 yards, he fell out of favor with many Heisman voters. However, it's hard to ignore the fact that he has 739 yards and nine touchdowns on just 132 carries. He has a good reputation, as last year he rushed for 1883 yards, and outstanding athletic ability, as evidenced by his 4.3 speed and a 340 bench press.
Eli Manning Mississippi, Sr, QB
Entering the season as Mississippi's all-time leading passer with 6,686 yards, Manning was a preseason Heisman favorite. With Manning's contributions, Mississippi's 6-2 win-loss record included an amazing victory over Florida, a perennial football powerhouse that hadn't lost to an unranked opponent at home in 14 years. Manning is 6'5" and 218 pounds.
Carnell Williams, Auburn,RB, Jr
Bo Jackson won a Heisman playing running back at Auburn, and Williams is a 5'4" 204-pound junior who has his sights on following in his footsteps. He had a bit of a slump when LSU held him to only 61 yards on 20 carries, but his 713 yards on 138 carries so far this season make him a definite Heisman contender.
B.J. Symons, Texas Tech, Sr., QB
With a midseason record that includes 36 touchdowns and 3,912 passing yards on 459 attempts, Symons has the type of stats that impress Heisman voters. Unfortunately, the three interceptions he threw against Missouri didn't help his cause.