The Heisman presentation is Saturday night. There are more finalists this year than there have been in a long time. While each finalist has many things going for them, there are drawbacks to every choice.
Sports Illustrated noted that what you see in a candidate is not the whole picture. Last year Manziel was the bad boy and Mante Teo the scholar athlete playing for his diseased girlfriend. Johnny Rogers had an early brush with the law, but turned out to be a model citizen after that. Controversy followed Cam Newton from Florida to junior college to Auburn. You never know who will be the next O J Simpson. That said, it's quite enough to keep the selection process focused to on-field achievements.
There were many great college players who didn't make the list. Marcus Mariota had a great year with phenomenal stats, but a late season knee injury limiting his mobility contributed to Oregon's fall in the rankings. Brett Hundley was another great player out west. Aaron Murray put up great numbers despite crippling injuries to many of his playmakers. Tajh Boyd put up record-breaking numbers in the ACC, but stumbled in the two biggest games of the year.
With four of the six finalists coming from the South, and five of the six from the SEC and ACC, you wonder if regional voting will play a role in the outcome of the vote. Midwestern voters may have all voted for Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch, and voters in the Northeast may have all voted for Boston College running back Andre Williams. There is a good chance that voters split votes amongst all the Southern players. There's a good chance Lynch and Williams finish higher in the vote because of this breakdown. My order of finish:
1. Jameis Winston: #1 FSU QB: 3820 yd, 38 TD/10 int, 193 yd rushing, 4 TD. Everyone seems to think Winston will be the runaway winner, and his play on the field makes him a deserving choice. He may lose votes not only because of being a suspect in the sexual assault case, but also because he is only a (redshirt) freshman.
2. Johnny Manziel: Texas A&M QB: 3732 yd, 33 TD/13 int, 686 yd rushing, 8 TD. After winning the Heisman last year, Manziel put up even better numbers this year – despite playing on a worse team. Those I'm sure Johnny Football voted for himself, he may lose other votes due to the off-season autograph incident and the Aggies 8-4 record. There's a good chance the regional voting factors listed above could cost Manziel a high finish. And many old-fogey voters could leave him off the ballot to ensure Archie Griffin remains the only repeat winner.
3. Andre Williams: BC RB: 2102 yd, 17 TD. Williams went through the first half of the season with hardly any national exposure, but ESPN's constant barrage since then should bolster his chances for a high finish. Boston College's 7-5 finish in the ACC may cost him votes, but being the only candidate north of the Mason-Dixon line should deliver plenty of regional votes.
4. Jordan Lynch: NIU QB: 2676 yd, 23 TD/7 int, 1881 yd rushing, 22 TD. Eye-popping numbers, but against inferior competition. Had NIU remained undefeated and earned a BCS bid, more votes would've been cast his way. Lynch simply did not get the media attention the other candidates did. Being the only Midwestern candidate should gain him votes. Still, he could be a surprise winner.
5. AJ McCarron: #3 Bama QB: 2676 yd, 26 TD, 5 int. This year's career achievement candidate. Two national championships, an 11-1 record this year, and a number three BCS national ranking. Squeaky clean southern boy with an all-American beauty for a girlfriend. I'm a big fan, but he's lucky just to be a finalist.
6. Tre Mason: #2 Auburn RB: 1621 yd, 22 TD. A great late-season push, with over 25% of his rushing yards coming in the last two games. Mason did rush for over one hundred yards per game in the first eleven games, but he didn't hit the radar screen of most voters only after coming up big in Auburn's two biggest games of the year.