If one thing is for certain, this season has created one of the most colorful variations of Heisman front-runners we’ve seen in years. From USC Trojans’ QB Matt Barkley as the preseason favorite, to Kansas State Wildcats’ Collin Klein (pre Baylor, now post Texas), to Notre Dame Fighting Irish LB Manti Te’o, Texas A&M Aggies’ freshmen prodigy Johnny Manziel, and all speculated in between, 2012 has been nothing short of entertaining.
With the 2012 Heisman Presentation days away, and the top three candidates announced, now is an appropriate time to begin highlighting future hopefuls, as they compare to current nominees.
I’ll begin this series with senior quarterback Derek Carr of the Fresno State Bulldogs, who should be in conversation this offseason. Despite being a member of the Mountain West Conference, the Bulldogs have been fairly successful in producing NFL talent, including Carr’s older brother, David Carr, who was drafted in 2002, first overall by the Houston Texans. While the 33 year old has seen several NFL rosters (currently with the New York Giants), nobody appears to have been a better coach or motivator for Derek, than the former Sports Illustrated cover-QB himself.
Based off of conference comparisons from the Big 12, to the SEC, to the MWC, I know that most are already thinking, “If Colin Kaepernick, and Kellen Moore were omitted from Heisman discussion in years past, so will Carr.”
While this is true, unlike Kaepernick, Carr was offered several scholarships despite being equally underrated in high school. I think we can all agree that had Carr signed his Letter of Intent to play for Utah (Pac-12), he would have already been included in conversation.
What pundits would be doing by omitting Carr from 2013 discussion or a nomination, would be just as much of an injustice as if Manziel was left off the radar entirely in 2012 for being a freshman.
To compare numbers, during his senior season (pre-bowl game of course), Collin Klein threw for 2,490 yards, 15 touchdowns, with 7 interceptions. During his career at K-State, he threw for 4,573 yards, 29 TD’s with 13 INT’s.
During Carr’s 2012 season, he threw for 3,742 yards, 36 TD’s, and 5 INT’s, with a career 7,398 yards, 62 TD’s, and 14 INT’s.
I understand the ensuing Big 12 v. MWC debate, but history shows that the strong teams in the MWC can certainly maintain competitiveness against southern opponents. While the 6-6 SMU Mustangs are in the C-USA West, they will be facing 9-3 Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, and it would behoove football fans to get acquainted with one of the nation’s statistically top-20 offensive teams, and Carr.
Although he is a hands-down favorite, if Manziel doesn’t win the Heisman this year, he will likely be nominated his sophomore year if his numbers remain consistent. I just hope that if pundits, the Trust, and fans can dismiss “standard” Heisman protocol, they can also respect raw talent, and give nods when they’re due, regardless of the conference or team.
Follow VF Castro on Twitter: @VFdoesFootball