Only 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.
Oklahoma produced a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in 2003, and again five years later in 2008. Blake Bell can continue the trend in 2013 as the third Sooner Heisman winner this century.
His ascent to the starting role is intriguing. Bell has played an important role in the Sooner offense his first two seasons in Oklahoma, but largely in specialty packages on the goal line and in short yardage. Bell is powerful with a 6-foot-6 and nearly 260-pound frame, but how will that power translate to his throwing arm?
He’s attempted only 20 passes in his two years and has yet to score a touchdown, but showed flashes of brilliance in the spring game.
How Blake Bell Wins The Heisman
Bell won’t put up the same passing numbers as his Heisman-winning predecessors, Jason White and Sam Bradford, but he can excel in an area neither did. Bell’s proven his ability to score via the rush, racking up 24 touchdowns in his two seasons as a complementary piece to Landry Jones.
Dual-threat quarterbacks thrive in the Heisman race. Four of the last five quarterbacks to take home the trophy were two-way play-makers. Coincidentally, Bradford was the only one who functioned exclusively as a passer.
And indeed, every OU team from 2008 through 2012 passed over 500 times. White threw almost 900 passes in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Through numerous offensive coordinator changes — Chuck Long, Kevin Wilson, Kevin Sumlin and now Jay Norvell and Josh Heupel — the Sooners are at their best when the passing game clicks. Bell may not throw with the same frequency or register the numbers as preceding Sooner quarterbacks, but his ability to connect with talented receivers Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard will keep defenses spread for running back Damian Williams to attack — and vice versa. That Heupel was an effective two-way quarterback as OU’s play caller in 2000 could help open the playbook more to Bell in 2013.
The Sooners are particularly multifaceted. That means more opportunities for points, and thus more chances to rack up eye-catching statistics for Bell. And since OU is a perennial Big 12 and thus BCS contender, he’ll have the nation’s attention.
• 60 carries/201 yards (3.4 per carry)
• 11 touchdowns
Compared To Past Heisman Winners
- Tim Tebow, 2007: Tebow functioned during his freshman season at Florida in much the same way Bell operated for his first two in Oklahoma. Upon taking the reins from Chris Leak in 2007, Tebow showed off a two-way game unlike anything seen in the college game during this era.
Tebow was the first 20-plus passing and 20-plus rushing touchdown scorer in college history. His strength and tenacity made him difficult to tackle on the ground, much like Bell. Tebow also made effective use of the many talented skill players surrounding him. Bell has a similar corps around him at OU.
- Cam Newton, 2010: Originally intended to succeed Tebow at Florida, Newton arrived at Auburn in 2010 a somewhat unknown commodity. Sure, people who his name, but the extent of his ability was as much a mystery as Bell coming into the 2013 season.
Newton combined his defensive end-like size with uncanny rushing ability and a rocket arm to put together arguably the most impressive season of any dual-threat quarterback in college football history. Bell boasts comparable size and the ability to run; a 30-20 season is unlikely, but the bar to meet is set.