Since the year 2000, the Heisman Trophy has been dominated by quarterbacks. Former Alabama running back Mark Ingram is the only non-quarterback to win the trophy since the new millennium began.
So when talking about early season Heisman predictions, the conversation tends to be dominated by the signal callers.
This year is no exception — Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater were among the favorites heading into the season to take home the biggest award in college football.
Not much has changed three weeks into the season, except for the fact that Miller has yet to play a full game and is most likely out of the race.
But even though redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton has garnered most of the headlines stepping in for Miller, there is another player who could be argued as being the MVP for OSU this season.
Redshirt-senior running back Jordan Hall is fifth in the nation with 402 rushing yards so far in 2013, to go with six touchdowns for OSU, but you won’t see him on any short lists for Heisman front runners this week.
Why not? Why can’t Hall, with those stats, be considered one of the top players in the nation?
During the summer, senior running back Carlos Hyde was expected to be the top back for the Buckeyes. That was until Hyde’s involvement in an incident at a Columbus bar in July, which resulted in him getting suspended for three games. In steps Hall, who was tapped as the starter in week one and has taken full advantage.
Part of what is keeping the Jeannette, Pa., native out of the race is the game’s development since the 1990s.
The era of the mobile quarterback is part of what makes it so difficult for non-quarterbacks to break into the exclusive club of Heisman winners.
When players like Tim Tebow or Cam Newton are running for 20 touchdowns to go along with their passing numbers, a running back who has 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground (Ingram’s stats the year he won) finds it hard to impress.
If Hall can continue the current run, he very well may be OSU’s representative in New York for the Heisman award ceremony come December. But the biggest question for Buckeye running back is how much Hyde changes things in the Buckeye backfield.
Hyde will make his return from suspension next week against Florida A&M and depending on how OSU coach Urban Meyer uses him, could have enough of an impact that Hall loses any momentum he has so far this year.
But I don’t see that happening.
I think Urban Meyer is the kind of coach that likes to go with the hot hand, and right now that is Hall. Hall has to lose his job, rather than have Hyde come in and reclaim it.
Buckeye fans should be excited to see what Hall can do for the rest of the season. With Miller’s injuries and Guiton back at No. 2 QB when Miller returns, Hall may be OSU’s best chance at winning another Heisman trophy — which would be the first since Troy Smith won the award in 2006.