Petty Paces The Big 12 Heisman Preseason Watch
By Steve Pipps
The Heisman Trophy is the most coveted award in college football, but you already knew that. Through the season, fans and media speculate week to week on whose stock jumped or dropped. To be in New York with your name on the ballot come December is an honor that current Big 12 teams have won 10 times over the 78 years the trophy has been awarded. (Including all teams that have been a part of the Big 12 the total sits at 16)
Since 2000, three quarterbacks have won the Heisman for the Big 12. Jason White for OU in 2003, Sam Bradford for OU in 2008, and Robert Griffin III for Baylor in 2011.
2014 brings a new round of speculation and the Big 12 has a few horses in the race. Compiling from a few different sources the Big 12 has five names that are being looked at as early Heisman hopefuls: Jake Waters from Kansas State, J.W. Walsh from Oklahoma State, Davis Webb from Texas Tech, Trevor Knight from Oklahoma and Bryce Petty from Baylor.
The Long shots:
Jake Waters at Kansas State had a good year last year, but he needs to step it up ten-fold if he wants to take home the trophy. Last season Waters went 159-260 for 2,469 yards. He had 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. To win the Heisman these days takes near perfection. Waters and the Kansas State Wildcats might be a surprise favorite in the Big 12, but Waters will have to pull a miracle to win the Heisman.
Davis Webb might only be on one list of Heisman hopefuls at this time, but that could change, and quickly. Webb has a few things going for him, he plays for Kliff Kingsbury who was the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech the year Johnny Manziel won the Heisman. Last season in the Holiday Bowl Webb threw for 403 yards and four TDs. Despite not starting every game Webb racked up the seventh highest adjusted QBR among returning QBs. He is a long shot now, but keep your eye on Davis Webb
J.W. Walsh has a steep hill to climb before he can hoist the Heisman above his head. Walsh only played in eight games last season finishing with 1,333 yards, nine TDs and five INTs. He will be the starter next season and will have no time to get comfortable before facing Florida State and last year’s Heisman winner, Jameis Winston. Walsh would need the season of his life to take home the trophy.
Trevor Knight is not a long shot to everyone, but let’s be honest. We’re only basing his odds off of one game and a rough spring. There is no way he can be anything but a long shot. The game at hand was the All-State Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. Trevor Knight lit the field up with 348 yards, four TDs and one INT. In seven games prior, Knight had only thrown for 471 yards and five TDs. His Sugar Bowl performance was astounding and propelled his team to the Top 5 of some 2014 preseason rankings.
The problem with Knight is he only had one game that showed what he can do. While I’m not saying it was a fluke, we don’t have enough evidence to say he can continue doing it all season. Knight will have to carry that performance through every game next season and lead OU to the new College Football Playoff if he wants a shot at the Heisman.
Bryce Petty was a force last season and shows no signs of slowing down in 2014. Last season Petty’s stat line was better than a Dwayne Johnson action movie [read stellar]. He went 250-403 for 4,200 yards. Petty had 14 rushing TDs and 32 passing TDs with only three INTs. He led Baylor’s high-powered, high-scoring offense to its first Big 12 Championship and an 11-2 record. Those two losses came at the hands of Oklahoma State mid-season and UCF in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl .
Petty and Baylor have to eliminate those two losses to give Petty a shot at raising the Heisman. He then has to play lights out each week to stay ahead of the stiff competition around the league. It is completely conceivable that Petty can do it. Last season he had an adjusted QBR of 85.5, which placed him third among returning QBs behind Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
Baylor has a tough stretch at the end of the season with games against OU in Norman, OSU, Texas Tech and Kansas State. Depending on how those teams have done throughout the season, that four game stretch could be one of the toughest in the league. If the Bears are in contention for a spot in the playoff, It chould help Petty's chances of getting invited to Manhattan.
One of the best parts of the season is Heisman speculation. Picking a winner at the beginning of a season might be as difficult as picking winning lottery numbers so I will purely speculate*. 2014 will be ripe with it and hopefully will contain a Big 12 name all the way to New York.
*Bryce Petty 2014 Heisman winner