Work in Sports
Year for the quarterback to reclaim throne
By Marc Lancaster, CNNSI.com
The other guys have had their fun the last few years, but it's time for the quarterbacks to reclaim the Heisman Trophy.
With Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams and Charles Woodson capturing the ultimate piece of college football hardware the last three seasons, a passer hadn't won the award since Danny Wuerffel in '96. That represented the longest QB drought of the modern, passing-intensive era, which began with Doug Flutie's win in '84. Don't expect it to continue.
It's hard to glance down any preliminary list of candidates for the 2000 Heisman Trophy and not put a quarterback at the top.
Purdue's Drew Brees and Virginia Tech's Michael Vick lead the way in name recognition, and both should put up big numbers, but neither of their teams is likely to be ranked in the top 10 this season, and that could hurt.
By contrast, Florida State's Chris Weinke and Nebraska's Eric Crouch will lead the nation's top two teams and get plenty of national exposure. Their task will be to put up numbers that can be weighed against the one-man shows put on by Brees and Vick while surrounded by stronger supporting casts.
A few other quarterbacks (Georgia's Quincy Carter, Indiana's Antwaan Randle El, Washington's Marques Tuiasosopo) could break into the mix, but much like in the presidential primaries, they'll have to make an impact early to avoid falling off the radar a month into the campaign.
As for the running backs, this year's group is woefully short on household names. Aside from Michigan's Anthony Thomas, most of the top backs hail from schools that rarely get national exposure, and that could cripple their chances from the beginning.
Mississippi's Deuce McAllister is probably the best all-around threat, while Maryland's Lamont Jordan and TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson are more traditional workhorse backs, like Thomas.
If you're a fan of non-traditional candidates, this is a dry year. There isn't a defensive player with enough preseason buzz to break through a la Woodson, though Nebraska linebacker Carlos Polk might be fun to watch. The best bet for a utility player is probably Alabama's Freddie Milons, who does it all for the team favored to win the SEC and contend nationally.
Positional arguments aside, though, the 2000 Heisman race promises to be exciting for one reason above all others: There is no clear-cut favorite. Dayne's selection last December was hardly suspenseful, as he had entered the year with considerable p.r. momentum. This year's field seems much more balanced, and that should make for some intriguing twists and turns as the season progresses.
Drew Brees, QB, Sr., Purdue'99 Passing: 301 of 494 (60.9 percent), 3,531 yards, 21 TDs, 11 INTs, 321.0 ypg, 130.5 eff.
'99 Rushing: 79 carries, 177 yards, 4 TDs
'99 Big Game: In 52-28 win over Michigan State, went 40-of-57 passing for 509 yards and 5 TDs.
Michael Vick, QB, So., Virginia Tech'99 Passing: 90 of 152 (59.2 percent), 1,840 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 184 ypg, 180.37 eff., led nation in pass efficiency
'99 Rushing: 108 carries for 585 yards, 8 TDs, 58.5 ypg
'99 Big Game: In 38-14 win over Boston College on Nov. 26 to clinch the Big East title, went 11-of-13 passing for 290 yards and 3 TDs, while rushing 16 times for 76 yards and 1 TD.
Quincy Carter, QB, Jr., Georgia'99 Passing: 216 of 380 (56.8 percent), 2,713 yards, 17 TDs, 6 INTs, 246.6 ypg, 128.42 eff.
'99 Rushing: 102 carries, 255 yards, 5 TDs
'99 Big Game: In a 28-25 overtime win over Purdue in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, completed 20 of 33 passes for 243 yards and 1 TD, and rushed 16 times for 41 yards and 1 TD. Georgia rallied from a 25-0 deficit for the biggest comeback in bowl history.
Chris Weinke, QB, Sr., Florida State'99 Passing: 232 of 377 (61.5%), 3,103 yards, 25 TDs, 14 INTs, 282.1 ypg, 145.1 eff.
'99 Big Game: Completed 20 of 34 passes for 329 yards and 4 TDs in 46-29 Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech that gave FSU the national championship.
Eric Crouch, QB, Jr., Nebraska'99 Passing: 83 of 160 (51.9%), 1,269 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs, 105.8 ypg, 127.93 eff.
'99 Rushing: 180 carries for 889 yards, 16 TDs, 74.1 ypg, led team in rushing
'99 Big Game: In 41-15 win over Kansas State on Nov. 13, rushed 27 times for 158 yards and 2 TDs, while completing 8 of 17 passes for 69 yards.
Antwaan Randle El, QB, Jr., Indiana'99 Passing: 150 of 279 (53.8%), 2,277 yards, 17 TDs, 7 INTs, 207 ypg, 137.41 eff.
'99 Rushing: 224 carries for 788 yards, 13 TDs, 71.6 ypg
'99 Big Game: Rushed 37 times for 157 yards and 3 TDs, and completed 17 of 30 passes for 265 yards and 1 TD as Indiana rallied from a 28-7 third-quarter deficit to post a 34-31 overtime win over Illinois on Oct. 2.
Marques Tuiasosopo, QB, Sr., Washington'99 Passing: 171 of 295 (58.0%), 2,221 yards, 12 TDs, 11 INTs, 201.9 ypg, 127.17 eff.
'99 Rushing: 138 carries for 541 yards, 6 TDs
'99 Big Game: In 35-30 win over Stanford, rushed 22 times for 207 yards and 2 TDs, and completed 19 of 32 passes for 302 yards and 1 TD.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Sr., TCU'99 Rushing: 268 carries for 1,850 yards (6.9 avg.), 18 TDs, 168.1 ypg, led nation in rushing
'99 Big Game: In 52-24 win over UTEP on Nov. 20, rushed for an NCAA Division I-A single-game record with 406 yards on 43 carries, 6 TDs.
LaMont Jordan, RB, Sr., Maryland'99 Rushing: 266 carries for 1,632 yards (6.1 avg.), 16 TDs, 148.4 ypg
'99 Big Game: In 34-30 loss to Virginia on Nov. 20, carried 37 times for 306 yards and 2 TDs
Deuce McAllister, RB, Sr., Ole Miss'99 Rushing: 151 carries for 809 yards (5.4 avg.), 12 TDs, 80.9 ypg '99 Receiving: 20 receptions for 201 yards '99 Kickoff Returns: 25 for 652 yards (26.1 avg.), 1 TD
'99 Big Game: In 38-16 win over Arkansas on Nov. 6, totaled 317 all-purpose yards. Had 125 rushing yards, 38 receiving yards, and 158 return yards, including a 100-yard return for a touchdown to open the game.
Anthony Thomas, RB, Sr., Michigan'99 Rushing: 283 carries for 1,257 yards (4.4 avg.), 16 TDs, 114.3 ypg
'99 Big Game: In 34-31 win over Indiana on Oct. 30, carried 42 times for 197 yards and 3 TDs
Freddie Milons, WR, Jr., Alabama'99 Receiving: 65 receptions for 733 yards (11.3 avg.), 2 TDs, 61.1 ypg
'99 Rushing: 15 carries for 178 yards (11.9 avg.), 1 TD
'99 Passing: 3 of 4 (75 percent), 81 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
'99 Kickoff Returns: 11 for 237 yards (21.5 avg.)
'99 Punt Returns: 29 for 282 yards (9.7 avg.), 1 TD
'99 Big Game: In 34-7 win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4, caught only one pass but rushed six times for 116 yards, including a 76-yard TD. Was named the game's most valuable player.
Marc Lancaster's Heisman Watch will appear weekly on CNNSI.com during the season.