Unconventional coach was a winner; Manti for Heisman

Published: Sunday, Nov. 25 2012 6:20 p.m. MST

This year it’s been hard to get a handle on the whole thing. Before the season started, USC’s Matt Barkley looked like a shoo-in. Of course that was before he lost four games and got injured. After five games, West Virginia’s Geno Smith looked like the obvious front-runner after putting up some amazing numbers. But five straight Mountaineer losses doomed his chances. Kansas State’s Collin Klein looked like the man until his team was crushed by a sub-.500 Baylor team.

There are other top candidates out there, such as Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Oregon’s Kenjon Barner

But I’ve got it down to three.

No. 3 — Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: I loved his game in the upset win over No. 1 Alabama when he passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. For a while I thought he might be worthy of a No. 1 spot on the ballot, but I have a hard time voting for a freshman as No. 1.

No. 2 — Marqise Lee, USC: I got to see Lee up close in October when he caught 12 passes for 192 yards against Utah. For the season, he’s averaging just under 10 receptions per game and nearly 150 yards. His team didn’t play as well as expected, but there may not be a better player and future pro than Lee.

No. 1 — Manti Te’o, Notre Dame — Forget the fact that he shares the same name as the town where my dad was born and shares the same religion as 65 percent of the people in Utah. Te’o was the best player on the best team (so far) in college football. He had more than 100 tackles for the third straight year and had seven interceptions this year from his middle linebacker spot. Plus it’s kind of cool to vote for a defensive player for the Heisman for a change. I hope he gets it.

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