NCAA Football

Five Reasons Kenjon Barner Should Have Been Heisman Trophy Finalist

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Kenjon Barner Should Have Been Heisman Trophy Finalist

Scott Olmos- USA TODAY Sports

When the Heisman finalists were announced a week ago there was one notable name missing from the final list.

Oregon running back Kenjon Barner.

There's no doubt that the other players who were finalists, QB Jonny Manziel of Texas A&M, QB Colin Klein of Kansas State and LB Manti Te'o of Notre Dame, deserved their place in New York City but Barner deserved to be there with them.

If you take the literal meaning of the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding player in college football, Barner fits the qualification perfectly. His stats this year were impressive in an offense that had plenty of more weapons to utilize. Barner was not always Oregon's first option in their offensive gameplan but despite that he put up great numbers in a very competitive Pac 12. Barner played his best in Oregon's biggest games of the season even when opposing defense would key on stopping just him.

There's no denying his athletic ability and although he's not the fastest running back in the country he knows how to read defenses and expose mistakes.

Barner played second fiddle to LaMichael James the past three seasons but he finally showed what he was fully capable of this year and his play deserved a place amongst the Heisman Trophy finalists in New York City.

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1. Standout Stats

Mark J. Rebilas- USA TODAY Sports

Barner was second fiddle to LaMichael James the past three season but in his first year as a true starter he made opposing defenses pay.

The senior finished the season with 248 carries, 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns. Barner's threat alone would often lead to other opening for players like Mariota and Thomas to expose and gain yards or touchdowns themselves. In the passing game Barner wasn't as much of a threat as Thomas but he still added 19 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown.

It's hard to argue with a player of Barner's ability and the stats he put up this year not to be included in the Heisman finalists.

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2. Standout Starter

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Barner spent the last three seasons as a backup behind LaMichael James but after James jumped to the NFL it was finally Barner's time to shine.

The senior thought about jumping to the NFL himself but decided against it seeing that he would have a featured role in the Ducks high flying offense. Barner finally got the amount of carries that he deserved as a featured back and his production this season showed his ability.

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3. Made Oregon History

Scott Olmos- USA TODAY Sports

Multiple times this season Barner had standout games and played a major role in the Oregon wins.

However, his best game of the season came in one of their biggest contests of the year. Granted USC wasn't as good as many people thought by the time the two teams met up in November but his performance in the game was second to none.

Barner finished the USC game with a team record 321 yards and 5 touchdowns as Oregon continued their national title aspirations. He was easily the best player on the field and made Oregon history in the process.

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4. Ducks Wouldn't Be Same Without Him

Scott Olmos- USA TODAY Sports

Oregon had as many weapons that an offense could ever need. They had speed, they had strength and they had immense talent.

At almost every position Oregon was at least two deep in talent but without Barner they would have been not as dangerous. His ability to run between the tackles, as well as outrun defenders, made him an instrumental part o the Ducks' offense. Even with Marcus Mariota and De'Anthony Thomas, Barner was the quintessential part of Oregon's success in 2012.

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5. Barner Will Have the Best Final Game of All the Finalists

Scott Olmos- USA TODAY Sports

Barner had a phenomenal regular season for the Ducks but compared to the matchups that the rest of the finalists will face, Barner will have the best final game performance.

Oregon will take on Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl and has the opportunity to have one of his best games of the season. The Oregon offense is a nice matchup against the Wildcats defense and their speed will create mismatches that they won't be able to contain. That will open up plenty of running lanes for Barner and I'll predict that he will finish with at least 175 yards and 2 TD's.

On the biggest stage Barner will step up and make it known that he should have been a Heisman Finalist.