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The 1997 Heisman Trophy will be presented Saturday, December 13, at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City. This year, four of the best athletes in Division I-A have been invited to attend the ceremonies. They are: Quarterbacks Peyton Manning of Tennessee and Ryan Leaf of Washington State, cornerback Charles Woodson of Michigan, and wide receiver Randy Moss of Marshall. Read the profiles below on all of the top candidates who were in the running or click on the individual picture above to check out each player's current statistics. May the best player win!
Peyton Manning, Tennessee (11-1)
Season passing: 287-477-11, 3,819 yards, 36 TDs, 60.2% completion percentage
Last week: Tennessee 30, Auburn 29 in SEC championship
Next game: vs. Nebraska, Orange Bowl, January 2
The skinny: Manning threw for four TDs and 373 yards to lead Tennessee to the SEC title in a 30-29 thriller against Auburn. Six turnovers nearly cost the Vols the game, with Auburn taking a 20-7 lead in the first half, but Manning's 73-yard touchdown to Marcus Nash gave the Vols a one-point win. Despite two interceptions, Manning completed 25 of 43 passes, including scoring strikes from 46, 73, 5 and 40 yards.
Along the way, he passed former Georgia QB Eric Zeier to become the SEC's all-time leading passer. Manning also became only the fourth quarterback to pass for 11,000 career yards. Winning an SEC title had to be one of the main reasons Manning stuck around for his senior year, and another goal -- playing for a national championship -- remains a possibility as the Vols face No. 2 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
If the Vols could beat Nebraska and Michigan were to lose in the Rose
Bowl, Tennessee could sneak away with a national championship.
His four-touchdown performance -- in a win, no less -- helped his Heisman campaign, which has seen fierce competition from Michigan's Charles Woodson, among others. Manning already has won the Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the nation's top quarterback, though Woodson won the Walter Camp Award, given to the nation's top player.
Ryan Leaf, Washington St (10-1)
Charles Woodson, Michigan (11-0)
Season defensive stats: 42 tackles (4 for losses), 1 sack, 7 INT
Season receiving: 11 catches, 231 yards; 3 carries, 15 yards, 3 TD
This week: Regular Season Over
The skinny: The Walter Camp Award winner clearly showed in the Ohio State game that he is one of the best players in the nation. He returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown and he stopped a fourth quarter OSU scoring threat by intercepting a pass in the end zone. Woodson was in on 83 plays in the game: 65 on defense, 8 on offense and 10 on special teams. For the season, Woodson was in on 765 plays: 613 on defense, 69 on offense, and 83 on special teams. He is currently second in the nation and leads the Big Ten in interceptions with 7.
Randy Moss, Marshall (10-2)
Season receiving: 90 catches, 1,647 yards, 25 TDs
Next game: Motor City Bowl, Pontiac, Michigan, December 26
The skinny: Moss caught three TD passes in Marshall's 34-14 win over Toledo in the MAC championship game on December 5 to set an NCAA record for most TD receptions in a season with 25, breaking the mark set by Houston's Manny Hazard. Hazard's 22 TDs came in only 11 games, but Moss' numbers from the championship game count toward regular season statistics. Moss was one of four players formally invited to New York for this year's Heisman Trophy ceremonies. The inaugural Motor City Bowl is Marshall's first bowl appearance since 1948, and Moss may make that his last game with the Thundering Herd and leave school early for the NFL Draft, where he is projected as a top 10 pick.
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