Who will emerge as college football's best?
It's been one of the most memorable seasons of college football to date, with a flurry of unimaginable upsets and shuffling in the rankings. But like every year, the top performers in the sport have incredible seasons, and will be rewarded for such, with college football's most prestigious award, the Heisman Trophy. This year's Heisman candidates include last year's runner-up, a record-breaking sophomore and two quarterbacks from unheralded programs.
Tim Tebow - QB, Florida (Sophomore)
The Heisman has never been awarded to a sophomore or freshman, but with Tebow's numbers this year it will be difficult to ignore him. Becoming the first quarterback in NCAA history with over 20 touchdowns passing and 20 touchdowns rushing speaks for itself. But perhaps the most impressive feat he accomplished was playing at a high level in each and every game. His worst performance was against the previously number one ranked LSU Tigers; though the Gators came up short by four points, Tebow still led the team with three touchdowns and only one interception. He's already snagged the Maxwell Award (for the nation's best all-around player) and the O'Brien Award (for the nation's best quarterback).
Darren McFadden - HB, Arkansas (Junior)
The dynamic back from Arkansas was runner-up in last year's Heisman race, finishing second to Ohio State's Troy Smith, and followed it up with an even better season in 2007. This year, McFadden has put up some gaudy numbers as the centerpiece of the Razorbacks offense, totaling 1,725 rushing yards and 2,172 all-purpose yards, both school records. He was instrumental in the Razorbacks' late-season overtime upset of LSU, rushing for 206 yards and three touchdowns and even throwing for another TD. The biggest thing going against McFadden is the lackluster performance of his team. The Razorbacks were erratic all season especially in conference games, where they went just 4-4 to finish behind LSU and Auburn in the SEC West. McFadden will most likely declare for the NFL draft after the season, where he will undoubtedly go within the top few picks and make his mark felt on Sundays.
Chase Daniel - QB, Missouri (Junior)
At the beginning of the season, Missouri was far from the top 25 rankings, but thanks to the pinpoint play of quarterback Chase Daniel, the Tigers have made a meteoric rise into the nation's elite. Daniel led Missouri to an 11-2 regular season with their first Big 12 title game in over 30 years and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. In his second year as full-time starter, Daniel blossomed, throwing for 4,170 yards and 30 touchdowns while completing an impressive 69.7 percent of his passes. Daniel was a gamer in a win against then-undefeated archrival Kansas, going 40-for-49 for 361 yards and three touchdowns, but struggled in two losses against Oklahoma, including the Big 12 championship that knocked Missouri out of the number one ranking and BCS consideration.
Colt Brennan - QB, Hawaii (Senior)
Following up on a record setting season, Brennan did a little bit more record setting by leading the Hawaii Warriors to the team's first 12-0 finish. As he is now the owner of the most career passing touchdowns record (131), a huge question has been raised: is he a system quarterback? Does it really matter though? Brennan has done everything his team has asked for, judging by this perfect season. Hawaii's relatively weak schedule will unfairly count against him on Saturday. Tim Tebow and Chase Daniel have stepped up in some big games, while Brennan hasn't had the big games to step up in.
Andrew's Prediction: Darren McFadden - Simply put, McFadden is the most dynamic player in college football, and the Razorbacks would be nothing without their stud in the backfield. McFadden has already won the Walter Camp Award, which has been an accurate Heisman bellwether for the past three seasons.
Nitin's Prediction: Tim Tebow - Tebow's youth is all voters have to count against him. Even if his style of play won't make the cut in the NFL (some say he should play fullback), he has proven nearly everything there is to prove for a quarterback on the college level. Finding paydirt on the ground more than the likes of McFadden is just something else. Though it's unlikely he'll put up the same jaw-dropping numbers next year, there might even be that chance of winning twice.
Names to watch in 2008:
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
Kevin Smith, RB, UCF
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Pat White, QB, West Virginia
Andrew Kung. Andrew Kung is a rising Magnet junior who is psyched for a year of Chips Online. He has lived in New York, Michigan, and New Mexico prior to his current residence in Maryland. As a cynical sports fan, he is not often disappointed, but not … More »
Nitin Sukumar. Nitin's middle name is Antonio Gates. More »