Matt Barkley, Johnny Unitas Award Finalists

 

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The highly coveted Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award will be presented on December 7, 2012 in Baltimore, MD, and with the five finalists officially announced, it’s time to break them down.

It’s no surprise that University of Southern California, QB Matt Barkley is on the list. Barkley has had an unbelievable career, and truly is the embodiment of what the Johnny Unitas award stands for. His cool attitude, and ability to rally the Trojans during the worse NCAA sanctions handed down since Southern Methodist in the 80′s, puts him at above the competition.

Barkley was poised to win it all — the National Championship, and the Heisman — but with monumental setbacks and losses to Stanford, Arizona, and Oregon,  he’s only focused on finishing his senior year out strong against the UCLA Bruins tomorrow, and at home against the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

In terms of Barkley’s numbers, there is no comparing him to the other candidates. To date, Barkley has thrown for 12, 026-yards, 133 touchdowns, and 46 interceptions.

Second to Barkley, is West Virginia Mountaineers QB, Geno Smith (10,498-yards, 87 TD, and 18 INT). While WVU has been on the downward slope since their 49-14 loss in Lubbock, TX to the Texas Tech Red Raiders on October 19, the 3,041-yards, and 31 TD’s Smith has put up since entering the Big 12 Conference this season make him the runner up.

Smith was also in serious Heisman discussion in the beginning of the season, but unfortunately, the Mountaineers proved that they were projected too high against freakish Big 12 opponents.

E.J. Manuel out of Florida State has thrown for 6,985-yards, with 39 TD, and 7 INT to-date. While the Atlantic Coast Conference contenders aren’t as touted as the Pac-12, SEC, or Big 12, Manuel has been able to lead his team to a No. 10 ranking, with huge wins throughout the season, the biggest of which knocked then, No. 10 Clemson out.

If there was ever a time for A.J. McCarron from Alabama to play his best game, it was last week against Texas A&M. I believe that not only did this game make his Heisman stock drop, it also dropped him out of serious conversation for this award.

Texas A&M was originally the butt of every SEC joke, and entered to the conference as the the new “doormat”. Despite SEC dominance for the past six years, I’d say Alabama (and fan pleas to Pac-12 teams), is relying on sheer luck for a National Championship game, that was unfortunately, in a pass McCarron threw right into the hands of Aggies’ DB Deshazor Everett.

I have Kansas State QB Collin Klein last on the Unitas’ list, because I truly believe that he will win the Heisman. While his career totals are at the bottom of the list at 4,103 yards, 26 TD, and 9 INT, what the Wildcats have been able to accomplish this season is pretty substantial, and deserving of the nation’s top honor.

There is a bit of irony to take into consideration with this list. Last year, Stanford’s Andrew Luck was snubbed for the Heisman by Big 12 candidate, Robert Griffin III from Baylor, but Luck won the Unitas. Unfortunately, it looks as if there will be another Pac-12/Big 12 snub repeat, if Barkley wins the Unitas, and Klein wins the Heisman.

 

Follow VF Castro on Twitter: @VFdoesFootball

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