SEC: Toby Gerhart


My Heisman Trophy ballot has changed every week for the last couple of months.

I'm not surprised there are more than three players going to the trophy presentation.

Five players were invited to New York for Saturday night's Heisman Trophy presentation -- quarterbacks Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor, tailbacks Montee Ball of Wisconsin and Trent Richardson of Alabama and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu of LSU.

It's a shame the Heisman Trust didn't have room for three more quarterbacks because Houston's Case Keenum, USC's Matt Barkley and Boise State's Kellen Moore were just as deserving.

With five finalists going to New York, it figures to be one of the closer votes in recent Heisman Trophy history.

The closest vote in Heisman Trophy history came just two years ago, when Alabama tailback Mark Ingram edged Stanford's Toby Gerhart by only 28 points. Ingram received 227 first-place votes, Gerhart got 222 and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, the second runner-up, received 203.

Given the number of finalists and their geographical regions, we could have another really close finish on Saturday night.

Luck, the runner-up to Auburn's Cam Newton last season, entered the 2011 season as the Heisman Trophy favorite. His performance didn't slip much this season, as he completed 70 percent of his passes for 3,170 yards with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

I still feel Luck might be the most valuable player on any team in the country. Without him, there's no way the Cardinal is ranked No. 4 in the country and playing No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Luck has done more with less, as Stanford lacks the game-changing playmakers that other teams have.

But Luck might still be the second-best quarterback in New York. Griffin, who is widely known as RG3, completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 3,998 yards with 36 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 644 yards with nine touchdowns.

Without him, the Bears wouldn't have beaten TCU, Oklahoma and Texas. Griffin's one drawback: He had a late interception that sealed the Bears' fate in a 36-35 loss at Kansas State on Oct. 1 and threw two picks in a 59-24 loss at Oklahoma State on Oct. 29. But with everything else RG3 has done this season, it's easy to give him a mulligan for the miscues.

LSU defense
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesRunning back Trent Richardson has been at his best in Alabama's biggest games.
I still believe Richardson is the best player in the country. He looked like the best player on the field in No. 2 Alabama's 9-6 loss in overtime to No. 1 LSU on Nov. 5. He had 89 rushing yards and 80 receiving yards in a game where every yard mattered. He finished the season with 1,583 yards with 20 touchdown runs and three touchdown catches. He's also Mr. Dependable, not losing a fumble in his past 520 touches and only once in 614 career touches.

Ball has been a scoring machine for the No. 10 Badgers this season, running for 1,759 yards with 32 touchdown runs and six touchdown receptions. His 38 total touchdowns are one shy of matching former Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record of 39 set in 11 games in 1988. Ball's production helped lead the Badgers to a Jan. 2 date against Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.

Mathieu fell off my ballot after he was suspended from playing in the Tigers' 45-10 victory over Auburn on Oct. 22 for smoking synthetic marijuana. But his big plays helped the Tigers overcome deficits in each of their last two victories, over Arkansas and Georgia in the SEC championship game.

Mathieu -- aka the "Honey Badger" -- is the best player on the top-ranked team. He leads the Tigers with 70 tackles and has forced six fumbles and recovered five. He also is the most dynamic punt returner I've seen since Florida State's Deion Sanders. Mathieu has scored four touchdowns -- two on fumble returns and two on punt returns.

To penalize Mathieu for one foolish mistake wouldn't have been right. After all, Newton was briefly ruled ineligible at Auburn last season and 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James of Oregon was suspended from playing in last season's opener.

Alabama's Ingram wins Heisman

December, 12, 2009
12/12/09
8:58
PM ET
Running back Mark Ingram became the first Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.

AP Photo/Kelly KlineMark Ingram became the first player in Alabama history to win the Heisman trophy.




Ingram, who rushed for 1,542 yards, an Alabama record, and 15 touchdowns, led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season and a berth in the BCS national championship game.

The 2009 Heisman race was the closest in history. Ingram becomes just the third sophomore to win the trophy, but the third in a row following Tim Tebow in 2007 and Sam Bradford in 2008.

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart finished second, just 28 points behind.

Click here for all of college football's major award winners this season.video

My Heisman Trophy ballot

December, 7, 2009
12/07/09
2:52
PM ET
I can't remember going back and forth on my Heisman Trophy vote as much as I did this season.

At some point, I think I had five or six different guys at the top of my list during the season.

But my final ballot, which I submitted early this morning, looks like this:

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama

2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

3. Toby Gerhart, Stanford

Ingram's performance against so many good SEC defenses is what sold me on him. That and his value to an Alabama team that's ranked No. 1 in the country. The guy is incredible after contact and to rack up 189 rushing/receiving yards against Florida's defense speaks for itself.

According to this week's NCAA statistics, Ingram faced six of the top 28 defenses in the country (No. 4 Florida, No. 14 Virginia Tech, No. 15 South Carolina, No. 16 Tennessee, No. 24 Ole Miss and No. 28 LSU). And in those six games, Ingram rushed for 924 yards, averaging 154 yards per game and scoring seven touchdowns.

When Alabama needed him the most this season, he was at his best. He has 1,542 rushing yards and 30 catches going into the BCS National Championship Game.

How many players in SEC history have rushed for more than 1,500 yards and caught 30 passes in the same season?

Here's betting we spend a long time looking.

Speaking of looking, I looked long and hard at Suh as my top choice. He's the most dominant interior defensive lineman I've seen in college football in a long time.

Leaving Texas quarterback Colt McCoy off my ballot was tough. But he played poorly against the two best defenses he faced -- Nebraska and Oklahoma.

SPONSORED HEADLINES