A freshman Heisman hopeful?

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
10:30
AM ET
A true freshman? The Heisman Trophy?!

It’s never happened. It wasn’t even until 2007, when Tim Tebow won, that a sophomore cracked the code.

Rarely -- rarely -- in Heisman history have freshmen even finished among the top 10 in Heisman votes.

As a freshman in 1980, Herschel Walker helped Georgia to a national title and finished third in the Heisman voting. In 2004, freshman Adrian Peterson finished second. In 1999, Michael Vick finished third as a redshirt freshman. And in 1991, Marshall Faulk finished ninth. Beyond that, you have to go back to 1944, when Buddy Young from Illinois finished fifth and Thomas McWilliams of Mississippi State finished 10th. It’s only ever happened one other time. In 1942, Georgia Tech freshman Clint Castleberry finished third in the Heisman voting.

Is Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins in the same company?

Watch Watkins and you’d never know he’s only 18 years old and fresh out of South Fort Myers High.

Watkins has already set a school single-season record for touchdown receptions by a freshman. It took only three full games, 7 minutes and 13 seconds to do it. With a total of six touchdowns this season, Watkins is now tied for ninth in school history for touchdown receptions in a single season -- regardless of class.

He’s putting up big numbers against big-time opponents. In back-to-back upsets of Auburn and Florida State, Watkins has had at least 140 receiving yards. He also has had at least 175 all-purpose yards in three straight games.

And he’s playing for the No. 13 team in the nation, undefeated at 4-0.

Sounds like a dark horse freshman candidate to me.

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