Just 76 players in the history of college football have earned the designation of Heisman Trophy winners. First awarded in 1935, the Heisman Trophy is considered the sport’s pinnacle of individual achievement.
SaturdayBlitz.com is tracking the race to the 78th Heisman Trophy throughout the 2013 college football season via the Heisman Top 25. Every week throughout the season, we are tracking the progress of the contenders, both their on-field impact and media presence.
Bishop Sankey had some big shoes to fill, taking over the starting running back position Chris Polk had manned oh-so brilliantly for the Washington Huskies. Polk finished the 2011 season with 1488 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns and another 332 and four receiving.
The Husky ground game was in good hands, and on good feet, with Sankey. He was the conference’s fourth overall leading rusher in 2012; only national leader Ka’Deem Carey and Doak Walker Award finalists Jonathan Franklin and Kenjon Barner went for more. Only Carey returns from that triumvirate.
Sankey is very much at the forefront of a talented crop of running backs in the Pac. The conference’s top tier of ball carriers compare favorably with any, thus Sankey enters 2013 near the pinnacle of college backs.
How Bishop Sankey Wins The Heisman
Fans and pundits alike have awaited the return of Washington to college football prominence under Steve Sarkisian; 2013 could be the year. The Huskies are one of the most experienced teams in the country, and could contend for the Pac-12 championship.
Pursuing the program’s first Rose Bowl in 13 years would assuredly launch Sankey onto the national stage, as his contributions are integral to Washington’s efforts. He shouldered a considerable load with 289 carries last season — more than Franklin or Barner, and just 14 fewer than Carey. All three averaged more per average. Not coincidentally, each played with a quarterback who was more consistent than Washington’s.
Keith Price’s return to 2011 form is vital to UW contending for the Pac-12, which in turn is crucial to Sankey’s Heisman candidacy. As discussed in the breakdown of No. 25 Venric Mark, running backs are at a disadvantage against their quarterback counterparts and often must be in the BCS conversation to generate consideration.
Price’s progress also benefits Sankey’s output. A reliable passing game presumably opens the field for Sankey on the ground. It also means more opportunities as a receiver. Sankey has a proven ability to run swing and wheel routes, evident in his 33 receptions. Only Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins had more.
The return of Jesse Callier could translate to fewer carries for Sankey, but a well balanced offense might actually benefit the back’s Heisman credentials. Consider Barner had the fewest carries among the Pac-12’s four leading rushers, but finished with the second most yards. Defenses thrown off-balance from the varied looks and more snaps translated to bigger chunks of yards and more highlight plays.
With UW introducing a new, no-huddle approach, the addition of another back is a necessity to produce the desired end result.
• Rushing: 1439 yards/289 carries (5.0 ypc); 16 touchdowns
• Receiving: 249 yards/33 receptions
Compared To Past Heisman Winners
- Mark Ingram, 2009: Ingram’s 2009 stats are quite similar to those of Sankey in 2012, rushing for 17 touchdowns and 1658 yards in one game more. Ingram was also a similarly dangerous weapon in the passing game with 32 receptions for 334 yards and three touchdowns.
- Charles White, 1979: Others in the line of great USC running backs were bigger than White, who at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds was comparably sized to Sankey. But White carried a workload few backs of any size take on, rushing 374 times in 1978, and 332 in 1979. White averaged five yards per carry the year before he won the Heisman — the same output as Sankey in 2012. White’s yield improved to 6.2 yards per carry in 1979, and he also caught 22 passes.
What They’re Saying
Washington RB Bishop Sankey caught my attention while studying ASJ. Quick feet, lateral agility getting in/out traffic and runs hard.
— Kevin Weidl (@KevinW_ESPN) June 3, 2013
• Phil Steele 2nd Team Preseason All Pac-12