In the interest of fair play and ethics, I did actually wait until all the games were played to file my ballot on Sunday. Here, in my opinion, are the three most outstanding players of 2011 ...
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: The Stiff Arm needs some polishing. RGIII has the shammy.
In the last year, Reggie Bush has had to return the award. There was all the controversy swirling around Cam Newton. I’ll never get out of my head, the image of Newton being escorted by eight – 8! – security guards to his Heisman press conference.
Don’t think Griffin will need that. He is smart, charismatic and absolutely the best player in America. A one-man team? Pretty darn close. Baylor isn’t 9-3 without him.
His Heisman moment came on Nov. 19 with that last-second pass against Oklahoma. His final statement was unforgettable, four total touchdowns Saturday against Texas. He is assured of going down in history regardless. Griffin leads the country in pass efficiency and if his current numbers hold up, he would set an NCAA single-season record.
2. Montee Ball, TB, Wisconsin: Wisconsin pumps out 1,000-yard rushers like Milwaukee pumps out beer. This one is special.
At the beginning of the season, there was more buzz about 2010 consensus Big Ten freshman of the year, James White. At the end of it, Ball become Big Ten offensive player of the year. There’s never anything wrong with Big Ten’s leading rusher playing for the Big Ten champions becoming a Heisman finalist.
In a program that specializes in sharing the ball, Ball currently leads the country in rushing yards (1,759) and total touchdowns (38). On that subject: Ball needs two more touchdowns to break Barry Sanders’ 23-year-old record for most tds in a season. They would come in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. The junior is taking nothing for granted.
“It could be the last team I play, it could be the last camera I talk to,” Ball said. “You’ve just got to embrace it.”
3. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: What’s a little synthetic chronic between friends? OK, that’s not fair. Honey Badger was technically suspended for the Auburn game for a violation of team rules.
After watching this kid all year, frankly, I don’t care. Bush once won a Heisman. I’ll take my chances with Mathieu and his blonde Fauxhawk. Besides, the Honey Badger takes what he wants.
Mathieu combines the daring of Deion with multi-purpose ability of Charles Woodson, all in a 5-foot-9, 180-pound package. He has created the “Badger play”. In 25 career games, he has averaged at least one of these per game: interception, punt return for touchdown, fumble recovery, forced fumble.
How ridiculous is LSU’s defense? Fellow cornerback Morris Claiborne is an All-American. Mathieu is a Heisman candidate.