Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Campaign season isn’t over yet – not as far as college football is concerned, anyway.
Americans are digging political lawn signage out of their front lawns, but college football fans are digging in for what could be a contentious and heated Heisman Trophy debate.
Many pundits claim that Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein is the frontrunner for college football’s top honor. Others are riding the wave of positive momentum that Oregon senior running back Kenjon Barner provided after his 321-yard, five-touchdown performance last Saturday against USC.
I propose a new deal.
America needs an Ohio State player back on stage at the New York Downtown Athletic Club hoisting the Heisman Trophy. Buckeye sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller is the man to do it.
Just look at Miller’s record, err, statistics. The quarterback has served Buckeye Nation admirably, completing 124-of-218 passes for 1,753 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. Diversity is important for any candidate in an election – candidates must be well-versed in many different subjects and issues. Miller is as diverse as it gets in college football – after the ball is snapped to him in the shotgun formation, can anyone really say for sure what he’ll do with the ball? He’s as likely to zip a pinpoint-accurate pass into a receiver (like he did during Saturday’s 52-22 win against Illinois) as he is to take over the game with his feet (such as he did against Nebraska on Oct. 6 when he ran for a career-best 186 yards).
Favorable rankings based on his statistics are surely a sign of Miller’s zeal for country – he ranks 15th in America with more than 116 rushing yards per game. He’s also just the third quarterback in the history of the Big Ten Conference – the conference of America’s heartland – to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Miller’s well-rounded: He ranks 22nd nationally in total offense with 291.9 yards per game. He’s modest, too. During a Tuesday teleconference, OSU football’s humble signal-caller said he tried to avoid thinking about personal accolades.
“I really don’t pay attention to that,” Miller said. “I try not to talk about it, I don’t really like talking about myself.”
Shy though he may be, Miller will lead, and said as much on Monday.
“(I think it’s my) leadership,” Miller said of his improvement from the 2011 season to present day. “Coming from last year, I didn’t really know how to take that role. But this year I’m building on it and getting better at it each and every week.”
His leadership shines through in his rushing ability. Compared to his opponents, Miller is a responsible rusher whereas players like Klein are wasteful. Miller has rushed for 468 more yards than Klein on just 45 more carries. Miller takes the ball for 6.3 yards per carry.
Barner has run for more yards on fewer carries than Miller – 1,295 yards on 179 carries – but he isn’t versatile like OSU’s fearless leader. Miller has accounted for 27 touchdowns through the air and on the ground.
A pundit’s “logic” might suggest that a quarterback whose team is banned from the postseason is a pariah, that no Heisman voter would touch him. Minus the chance to pad his stats in a conference championship game, they say, Miller’s resume will be lacking.
Defy that logic at every turn and, with clear eyes and full hearts, give credit to this most deserving Heisman candidate.
As former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt might say, Miller is the man in the arena, in a literal sense as well as the way which he originally intended when he spoke the words on April 23, 1910. As Roosevelt said, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena -a man who spends himself in a worthy cause.
The 2012 season is Miller’s worthy cause, and his performance is more than worthy of the Heisman.
If Miller fails, he’ll do so daring greatly, but his daring should be recognized by voters and rewarded. The choice for the 2012 Heisman Trophy is simple: It’s Miller, stupid.