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EA Sports brings Archie Griffin and Eddie George to ‘Heisman Challenge’ in ‘NCAA Football 2013’

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

When EA Sports’ “NCAA Football 13” hits stores in July, it will mark the first time in the video game series’ history that gamers can play as real NCAA football players when the athletes were in school, and they can even play as ones from Ohio State.

With the introduction of a new game mode called “Heisman Challenge,” users have the opportunity to play as past Heisman Trophy winners, including the game’s cover athletes, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders. Former OSU running backs and Heisman winners Archie Griffin and Eddie George are also part of the new mode.

Griffin, the only two-time Heisman winner (1974 and 1975), said he was pleased, and excited to be a part of the new “Heisman Challenge.”

“I think (EA has) picked some pretty good (Heisman winners) to include in the challenge,” he said. “All of them are really good players and it’s an honor to be one of them.”

The former Buckeye is one of 16 past Heisman winners available for gamers to play as in the video game’s newest mode.

“These are historic players we’re talking about,” said “NCAA Football 13” associate producer Ben Haumiller. “They are a celebrated part of the sport’s history and it’s great for us to have them in the game.”

In the single-player game mode, gamers play the 2012 season as one of the Heisman winners available for selection. The goal is to win the 2012 Heisman Trophy, while trying to match the statistics from the player’s award-winning season, the game developers said.

Once the user successfully wins the Heisman with the former player, that player will be available for use in other game modes.

Haumiller said users can win the award without matching the Heisman-winning season’s statistics, but players matching or passing those numbers will automatically win the award.

Alex Howell, one of the game designers, said the inclusion of real players in “NCAA Football 13” is a “monumental” step for the video game series.

“For the first time you can play as the game’s cover athlete,” Howell said in a webcast Wednesday. “Never before have you been able to do that in an NCAA Football video game.”

Unlike EA’s Madden NFL franchise, which uses players’ names and likenesses, NCAA Football is restricted from using student-athletes’ names, per NCAA rules.

The name on the jersey isn’t the only identifier of the 16 Heisman winners, though. Howell and Haumiller said in game, the Heisman winners are portrayed as accurately as possible to how they looked and played on the field.

“Along with the name on the back of jersey, you’ll see all the guys as they looked in their glory days – equipment and all,” Howell said. “(Players) are modeled after their winning season, so a guy like Archie (Griffin) has mutton chops, just as he did back then.”

Gamers can also play with the past Heisman winners on any team in the NCAA – it doesn’t have to be their alma mater.

There is a screenshot for the new mode depicting 1991 Heisman Trophy winner and University of Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard in an OSU uniform.

Scott Traver, a second-year in human development and family science, said he understands why developers would put that aspect in the game, but said he does not think past Heisman winners should be in different garb.

“If someone really wants to play and understands the history of the game, you would think they’d put him where he belongs,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t do something like that.”

Griffin laughed at the thought of being placed in a Wolverines uniform, but said he knew it was going to be a possibility when he agreed to be a part of the game.

“That’s going to be interesting,” he said chuckling. “I’ll bet people will get a kick out of that.”

“NCAA Football 13” is scheduled for release July 10 and is slated to be priced at $59.99.

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