For the second year in a row, The Blue Workhorse is putting together a Sports Blog Heisman Trophy, which, like the Blogpoll, allows us bloggers an opportunity to say how dumb the guys actually voting for the award are and cast our own ballot. In a year where the voting may be closer than ever before, it will be interesting to see what differences (last year’s Blog Heisman went to Tim Tebow instead of Sam Bradford) there will be between the blogger vote and the real Heisman. I have quelled the temptation to put in a vote for Brandon Graham, and my ballot is as follows:
3. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson — Put C.J. Spiller on Alabama, or Texas, or Florida, or even Cincinnati, and he might just be the odds-on favorite for the Heisman Trophy this season. His ability to affect the game as a runner, receiver, and returner is unmatched by any other back in country — Spiller finished 2009 with 1145 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 201 carries (5.7 yards per carry), 445 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 33 catches (13.5 yards per catch), 210 yards and a touchdown on 13 punt returns (16.2 yards per return), and an astounding 708 yards and four touchdowns on 21 kick returns (33.7 yards per return). Just for the hell of it, he even threw for a touchdown this season. There may be more effective tailbacks on the ground (Mark Ingram, for instance), but nobody has Spiller’s ability to make an impact in so many different ways. If there was an award for the most dangerous player in the country, Spiller would win in a landslide — his numbers would look even more impressive if teams actually kicked to him the majority of the time. His impact goes beyond stats, which is why I have him at No. 3 on my ballot.
2. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford — I had a very tough time deciding which more traditional back (aka not C.J. Spiller) to include on my ballot — Ingram played for the more high-profile, and better, team and came up big in Bama’s biggest game, while Gerhart was tasked with carrying the offensive load for a surprisingly good Stanford squad. I ultimately decided on Gerhart, who was astoundingly consistent despite being the focal point of every defense’s plan to stop the Cardinal — he never rushed for less than 82 yards or 4.4 yards per carry in a game and scored in all but one game. Ingram was tremendous himself, but had a couple of subpar performances, including a 16-carry, 30-yard day against Auburn that almost cost the Crimson Tide an undefeated season. Gerhart was the pinnacle of a workhorse back, finishing with 1736 yards and 26 touchdowns on 311 attempts, and I think he was the best offensive player in the country this year.
1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska — After watching Suh dominate the Big 12 title game, recording four sacks of Colt McCoy and nearly leading the Cornhuskers to an upset of the nation’s No. 2 team despite the offense not scoring a touchdown, I have a hard time thinking anybody else deserves the award for the nation’s best player more than him. Suh has everything you want from a Heisman winner: eye-popping numbers (82 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 10 pass breakups, 19 quarterback hurries, three blocked kicks, and even an interception), a signature performance, even appearances on both sides of the ball (Suh played several snaps at fullback in short-yardage situations). The only thing missing is a traditional Heisman position, but at this point, Suh has transcended defensive tackle and become the player at the forefront of the Heisman discussion because of his outstanding play — a novel concept, I know. Suh may not take home the Heisman on Saturday, but he’ll be the player everybody remembers from this Heisman race, especially when he’s dominating on Sundays for the next decade.