As the college football landscape begins to separate the pretenders from the contenders, it's time to begin the discussion of Heisman hopefuls in their quest to be the best overall player in college football. It's hard to not see the quarterback position as the most valuable, at least in Heisman terms, so here we present our current Top Five favorites for the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Seems like many football minds are ready to just hand the trophy to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Never mind all that. The Heisman is supposed to go to the "most outstanding player in collegiate football," not the most popular and good-looking white drop back passer. Or the best player on the best team, for that matter. The best player thus far has been Griffin.
Griffin can hurt teams through the air or with his legs. His numbers speak for themselves: 82% completion rate, 18 touchdown passes, 1 interception, 173 yards rushing. If he continues to play the way he's playing and his Bears can win a game or two they're not expected to, there's no reason why Griffin can't win the Heisman.
2. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
Luck hasn't been the second best either. That award goes to Wisconsin's Wilson, another dual threat quarterback. The North Carolina State transfer who has also played minor league baseball has led Wisconsin to a 5-0 start, including an impressive 48-17 win over Nebraska. Wilson is completing 75% of his passes, has tossed 13 touchdown passes with only 1 interception, and he's averaging more than 6 yards when he runs the ball.
3. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Alas, we get to Luck. He's a pretty good player by the way. To say that Griffin and Wilson have outplayed him is fact, but that is not to knock his own performance for a very good Cardinal team that is also out to an undefeated start, including 2 Pac-12 blowouts. Luck is definitely pass-first but is very strategic about picking up yards on the ground when space is available for him. His one-handed catch this past weekend made high-light reels and showcased his athleticism, but had little impact on a 45-19 game against UCLA.
Luck's numbers, as expected, are impressive: 71% completion rate, 11 touchdown passes, only 1 interception, running for more than 5 yards a carry. And the truth is, all that is secondary to the senior leadership he provides for the Cardinals.
4. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Doesn't it seem like this guy has been the Bronco quarterback forever? His record as a starter is 42-2. Not bad, right? He's pretty good individually, too. His passing rating has never been lower than it was as a freshman: 157.1. Most guys dream of one college season that even glimpses that number. This year, he is doing the usual: completing 74% of his passes, a touchdown pass-to-interception ratio of 14:4, leading his team to a 4-0 start.
5. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Remember when Robinson was headlining Heisman talks at the beginning of last season? Injuries and team losses killed that conversation, but he is still around, doing his thing. He's a guy you judge by highlight reels and wins, not stats. So far, so good. His 8:6 touchdown passes-to-interceptions ratio and 53% completion rate will not jump out at you, but his winning touchdown pass against Notre Dame in Michigan's first night game will stay in the minds of voters if Michigan continues to win.
It's true that Michigan has probably found a long-term coach in Brady Hoke, but his transition has been eased by the play of Robinson. He is not a pro-style quarterback, so it is Hoke who is adjusting to Robinson, probably more so than the other way around. Michigan has jumped out to a 5-0 start may have the chance to beat Ohio State for the first time since 2003. Michigan will have to be in the Big Ten hunt for Robinson to stay in the Heisman conversation.