2012 Heisman Watch: A look at Collin Klein, other finalists

Jeff Zelevansky

The 2012 Heisman trophy ceremony takes place on Saturday night Dec. 8 in New York City.

The 2012 Heisman trophy will be awarded on Saturday night, and there are just three finalist who will be in attendance. The three players who were invited to New York City are Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Each three players have their own unique credentials to win the award that is given out to the most out standing college football player. The race is going to be tight since there are a unique set of finalist this year. There is a redshirt freshman in Manziel, a fulltime defensive player in Te'o and then Klein who is a more traditional selection as a senior quarterback.

Starting with Klein, he had another exceptional season where he led Kansas State to a Big 12 title since 2003, and put up big numbers in the process. For a lot of the year, the Heisman was Klein's to use, but since Manziel plays in the SEC he has passed over Klein as the odds makers favorite to win the award.

Since the Heisman trophy is hard to define, because at times it seems it can be a team award as much as it is an individual award. Klein put up stellar numbers in 2012 with 2,490 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, seven picks, 890 yards and another 22 scores on the ground. It can easily be argued that if Klein were not the starting quarterback for Kansas State the season likely would not have ended up with the Wildcats winning the Big 12, and finishing their season in the Fiesta Bowl.

The one item that hurst Klein in his chances at winning the Heisman is that he does not have a great win where he performed truly great. The best win was against Oklahoma, but that was a game that took place in late September. In that game Klein was just pedestrian with one rushing touchdown and a combined 228 total yards of offense. There is the West Virginia and Texas Tech wins, which were both against top-15 teams at the time, but both schools fell out of the rankings, so those games are not as seen that great any more.

When looking at just the stats, Manziel is the likely winner as he has 3,419 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 1,181 yards rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns.

However, in games against stiff competition such as Florida and LSU, Manziel was less than exceptional. In those games, Manziel had just one touchdown -- which was a rushing score -- as well as three interceptions. The big factor that put Manziel over the top was his performance in upsetting then-No. 1 Alabama on the road.

Then there is Te'o who is just a defensive player, he does not play special teams or on offense as Charles Woodson did when he won the award. However, Te'o is a great linebacker who accrued 103 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and seven interceptions. Good stats, but winning the Heisman could be a stretch.

Even over at the Irish-centric One Foot Down, they do not believe that Te'o will win the award, nor needs it:

The Heisman is a deeply flawed award and as happy as I would be for Te'o to receive the recognition that comes with winning it, I frankly don't mind if Manti finishes in 2nd place.

Not that Te'o is somehow above the award, but he's done more than enough for his teammates, for his coaches, for his fellow students, for his fans, for his family, and for college football to be damn proud without it.

He's already a legend without the stiff arm on his mantle.

Winning the Heisman would be nice but it doesn't bring vindication to his career and in fact would just invite a bunch of arguing and more mud slinging.

The 2012 Heisman trophy will be announced Saturday Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

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