BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
It's one of the most important votes I will have cast this year. Trump or Clinton? Nope...how about Jackson or Watson, Mayfield or Westbrook, Foreman or yep, Hurts?
It's time for me to cast my Heisman vote as the deadline to pull the trigger for the 870 Heisman voters nationwide is next Monday. While per Heisman rules I am not allowed to tell you the three players for which I will vote, I can give you an idea of what I'm thinking.
Let me be honest right up front: Louisville's Lamar Jackson will win the Heisman trophy as America's top college football player. Oh, I have no inside scoop, nor am I telling you anything that you don't know. All you need to do is to look at two things: Any recent Heisman poll and the Louisville quarterback's 2016 stats (through the roof despite limping home). But what about the other candidates? Which one of them is worthy of receiving an invitation to the Heisman dinner?
This year's Heisman field is a crowded one, and while most years we see an average of three players receiving Heisman dinner invitations, there's no rule on how many players can get an invitation to New York. While at least three candidates will be invited, I remind you that back in 1989 a total of eight players were invited. Here's the breakdown:
Heisman Ceremony Invitees:
- 8 players one time
- 6 players two times
- 5 players eleven times
- 4 players ten times
- 3 players nine times
(The Heisman Trust began inviting candidates to NYC in 1982)
Why throw those numbers your way? Because it's my belief that Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is deserving of an invitation to the shindig. Will he receive an invitation? Probably not, but let me throw some numbers your way and you make the call!
A look at the most recent Heisman poll from ESPN has Hurts 8th on the list and Jonathan Allen 11th. Those numbers alone don't lend Hurts much promise for a free trip north and while Jonathan Allen is the best defensive lineman in the nation, he won't be going north due to voters' obsession with offensive numbers (in their defense, a quarterback does touch the football on every offensive play).
Total touchdowns accounted for in 2016? Here's how Hurts stacks up with the Heisman favorites:
- 51 Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
- 48 Clemson QB DeShaun Watson
- 44 Washington QB Jake Browning
- 41 Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
- 33 Alabama QB Jalen Hurts
While Hurt's total touchdowns don't approach some of the gaudy numbers of the others, his season stats are no doubt impressive: 2452 passing yards, 21 TD's, 840 rushing yards, 12 TD's. 3292 total yards, 33 TD's. Hurts had a total 323 yards of offense in the Iron Bowl alone.
How do Hurts' season numbers compare to three Heisman front-runners?
- Lamar Jackson: 3390 passing yards, 1538 rushing yards. 4928 total yards and 51 TD's
- DeShaun Watson: 3676 passing yards, 439 rushing yards. 4115 total yards and 48 TD's
- Baker Mayfield: 3381 passing yards, 138 rushing yards. 3419 total yards and 41 TD's
So why Jalen Hurts? A few reasons:
Notice that Hurts has 127 fewer total yards than Baker Mayfield- you think Mayfield will get an invitation north? Likely. Hurts has 7 fewer rushing yards than Ohio State's JT Barrett. The Bama QB has set a school record for rushing yards in a season, besting the mark set by Steadman Shealy back in 1979.
He's played big in big games: 4 TD's vs Southern Cal, 4 TD's vs Tennessee, 323 total yards and 2 TD's vs Auburn, and he led The Drive vs LSU, to name a few) and he plays for the #1 team in the nation. He's certainly the most valuable player on that number one team.
But what about those other strong candidates? There are many who deserve a look: Jake Browning (Washington), Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma), D'onta Foreman (Texas), Dalvin Cook (FSU), Adoree' Jackson (Southern Cal), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford), Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) and Jonathan Allen (Alabama) can all argue their case.
Each Heisman voter must turn in his/her top THREE candidates. Which players go one through three on my ballot? I can tell you after the Heisman Trophy is announced. Until then, you can probably guess who my top two picks will be (but in what order? Hmmm...), But the third? Oh, the drama!
Will Jalen Hurts be heading to the Heisman ceremony in just over a week? I wouldn't bet on it, but if I had my choice, I'd invite five players. Let's open it up a bit and have a party! Jalen Hurts would be one of my five invited. And if the kid fails to go to New York this time around? He has at least two years remaining at Bama, which could mean that he has a chance of joining Archie Griffin in Heisman lore. You know what Archie Griffin did. I'm telling you, it could happen.