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Doug Robinson: Why not give Heisman to Utah's Eric Weddle?

Published: Monday, Nov. 27 2006 9:38 a.m. MST

Dear Heisman Trophy voters: It's time to get serious and make your pick. Who do you like?

There are no real head-turners out there this season, no Reggie Bushes or Vince Youngs, no one who really dazzled.

Troy Smith, the Ohio State quarterback, will likely win the award, but here's another idea: Instead of giving the trophy to the best running back or quarterback, why not break tradition and give it to the BEST FOOTBALL PLAYER?

Why not give the Heisman Trophy to Eric Weddle?

Weddle is the best all-around football player in the nation, period.

He is a gridiron sensation in the West. He gets more ink than Tom and Katie.

When is the last time you heard fans chanting a defensive back's name during a game (which is what they were doing in Rice Eccles Stadium on Saturday)? But of course Weddle is so much more than a defensive back.

Why not give the trophy to a guy who plays full-time cornerback/safety and part-time quarterback, punt returner and holder for field goals and extra points?

Why not give the Heisman to a guy who has scored three touchdowns on defense and four on offense?

"He should win the Heisman Trophy," Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said earlier this season. "I sincerely mean that."

So do I.

He has 58 tackles, 35 of them solo.

He has two fumble recoveries and returned one for a touchdown.

He has six interceptions and returned two for touchdowns.

He's rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries, or almost five yards per carry.

He's completed 2 of 4 passes for 43 yards, including a perfect, spiraling 18-yard touchdown pass that hit receiver Brent Casteel in stride against BYU on Saturday.

He's returned 7 punts for 40 yards.

He is Utah's third leading scorer, with 42 points.

The only people who spend more time on the field than Weddle each Saturday are referees. Against Air Force two weeks ago, Weddle played every snap on defense and collected eight tackles. On offense, he led the Utes in rushing with 73 yards and scored Utah's only two touchdowns. He also served as the holder for the game-winning field goal.

He played a total of 90 plays.

Afterward, Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry told him, "They're cheating you, son; they ought to give you two scholarships."

Ute coach Kyle Whittingham says Weddle might be the best all-around player ever to wear a Ute uniform, this at a school that has produced a long list of NFL stars. For that matter, Whittingham believes Weddle would be the best player in the Mountain West Conference at whatever position he played if he played it full time.

A couple of weeks ago, Weddle, a first-team preseason all-American, was listed as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Trophy (awarded to the nation's top defensive back), a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Trophy (to the nation's top defensive player), a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy (to the nation's top impact player) and a candidate for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy (also to the nation's top defensive player).

Give him all of the above, plus the Heisman, to round out his collection.

Where is it written that the Heisman will be won only by players at a couple of positions? Of the 70 Heisman winners, 64 were quarterbacks or running backs; only one was listed as a defensive player and he was a two-way player like Weddle — wide receiver/cornerback Charles Woodson in 1997.

Weddle has thrown the age of specialization on its ear. He's a throwback to one-platoon football. He defines what a good football player is. Nothing would say that better than the Heisman Trophy.


E-mail: drob@desnews.com

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