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Here's my Heisman Trophy ballot
December 8, 2012 - Cory Giger
Neil Rudel and I both are among the nation's media contingent who vote for the Heisman Trophy. Here's who I voted for (note: we rank from 1-3):
1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
He's the first freshman to win the Heisman, and picking him was simple for me. His numbers are tremendous (3,419 yards passing, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 68.3 percent, 1,181 yards rushing, 19 TDs, 383 yards per game), and he beat Alabama, the nation's best team, on the road while having a terrific game (253 yards passing, 2 TDs, 92 yards rushing).
It made no difference to me in the voting process that he's a freshman. He was fantastic in leading Texas A&M to a 10-2 record. Oh, and did I mention he beat Alabama? That was the Heisman moment of the year for all candidates.
2. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
The heart and soul of a Notre Dame team that's undefeated and playing for the national title, plus he's got a great story of overcoming personal adversity. He's the kind of kid you root for.
But as ESPN discussed the other day, is he the best player in college football or just the best story? He's only tied for 59th in the nation in tackles with 103 (PSU's Gerald Hodges had 109), although he is tied for third with seven interceptions. He made big plays when they needed to be made, and that's the mark of a great player.
I think the Irish will lose handily against Alabama for the national title (I'm predicting 30-16), and they would have lost to Pitt if not for a terrible pass interference call against the Panthers. Would we have been having a discussion about Te'o possibly winning the Heisman if Notre Dame wasn't undefeated? I doubt it. Just ask Collin Klein, a finalist who basically lost frontrunner status after Kansas State dropped one game to Baylor.
Still, as Penn State fans know with Michael Mauti, there's more to being a great player than just stats. There's leadership and being a great teammate, etc., and Te'o excels in all those areas for one of the most storied programs in college football.
He's a worthy Heisman finalist, just not worthy enough to win it in my opinion.
3. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
It's surprising to me that McCarron didn't get much support for the Heisman. His quarterback rating of 173.1 is significantly higher than that of Manziel (155.8) and Klein (156.1). McCarron might not have the overall stats those guys do, but his numbers are terrific nonetheless (26 TDs, 3 INTs, 2,669 yards passing, 66.8 percent).
Sure, McCarron is surrounded by great players on both sides of the ball. But remember, he led Alabama back for game-winning drives in the closing minutes against both LSU and Georgia, and that's why the Crimson Tide are playing in the national title game.
McCarron didn't deserve to win the Heisman, but he didn't deserve to get overlooked as much as he did, either. My colleague, Neil Rudel, didn't think so, as well, as he voted McCarron second.
I also considered Klein and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball for my No. 3 spot. Ball had a phenomenal career and great season, but the Badgers are just 8-5, making it tough to vote for him.
Rudel's ballot: 1. Manziel, 2. McCarron, 3. Te'o