The final stretch for the 2012 Heisman Trophy is a three-man race. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o were named the finalists for the most prestigious individual award in college football on Monday.
Passing: 180-272 (66.2 percent); 2490 yards; 15 touchdowns/7 interceptions
Rushing: 194 carries, 890 yards (4.6 yards per carry); 22 touchdowns
Optimus Klein, as he was dubbed for his no-nonsense style, slowed at season’s end after suffering an injury against Oklahoma State. Nevertheless, Klein powered K-State to an 11-1 regular season finish and the program’s first Big 12 Conference championship since 2003.
Passing: 273-400 (68.3 percent); 3419 yards; 24 touchdowns/8 interceptions
Rushing: 184 carries, 1181 yards (6.4 yards per carry); 19 touchdowns
Redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel appears primed to become the first Texas A&M Aggie to win the Heisman since John David Crow in 1957. Manziel would also be the first freshman to take home the coveted prize.
Interceptions/Passes Defended: 7/11
Tackles For Loss: 5.5
The on-and-off-field leader of the nation’s statistical best defense, Manti Te’o’s production transcends numbers. And even at that, Te’o has accrued some awfully impressive defensive statistics. The senior linebacker is in rare company as a defensive Heisman finalist; he’s in even more exclusive company as a defense only finalist.
- Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Do-everything Tavon Austin’s resume suffered because of West Virginia’s midseason, five-game losing streak. Nevertheless, Austin was one of the most productive offensive players in college football. He caught for 1259 yards and 12 touchdowns, rushed for three scores, had a 344-yard rushing game against Oklahoma, and returned a kick to pay dirt.
- Montee Ball, Wisconsin
The 2011 Heisman finalist may have fallen off the national radar because his numbers dipped below the historic benchmark he’d set, but Montee Ball had a spectacular season: 1730 yards rushing on 332 with 21 touchdowns.
- Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Oregon possibly had too many weapons for Kenjon Barner to garner attention, which is a shame. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry en route to 1624 yards and 21 touchdowns. Barner was also a capable component of the passing game with 232 yards off 19 receptions.
- Tajh Boyd, Clemson
A vast improvement on his efficiency made Tajh Boyd one of the most productive passers in college football. He completed 66.6 percent of his attempts for 3550 yards for 34 touchdowns. He also rushed for just south of 500 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
For those keeping score at home, Boyd accounted for the exact same amount of total touchdowns as presumptive front runner Manziel.
- Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
Sophomore Ka’Deem Carey became the first Arizona Wildcat to lead the nation in rushing since Art Luppino in the mid-1950s. Carey finished the season with 1757 yards on just 275 carries, an average of 6.4 per attempt. He also scored 20 touchdowns.
- Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones led the nation with seven forced fumbles, and ranked among the country’s best in sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (22.5).
- Marqise Lee, USC
It was a disappointing season for USC, but not for Marqise Lee. Lee wrote his name all over the Pac-12 record books in 2012, catching 112 passes for 1680 yards with 14 touchdowns.
- Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Orange Bowl-bound quarterback Jordan Lynch was among the most prolific dual threat play makers around. He scored 19 touchdowns with his feet and another 24 with his arm. Lynch was intercepted just five times. He accounted for 363 yards per game — 136 rushing, and 227 passing.
- Braxton Miller, Ohio State
This might be the most surprising omission, given the sophomore quarterback led the Buckeyes to the only undefeated season outside of BCS championship-qualifying Notre Dame. Miller flourished as the quintessential dual threat weapon in Urban Meyer’s offense, rushing for 13 touchdowns and passing for 15.