The 2009 Heisman race, if nothing else, is intriguing.
Florida’s Tim Tebow has already won one but missed some games and was generally, by his lofty standards, unspectacular.
Colt McCoy, of Texas, has already been runner-up and Thursday took home the Maxwell Award, essentially the same award as the Heisman. Only less hyped. He appears the favorite.
Running backs never win the Heisman anymore, but Alabama’s Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart, of Stanford, are two legitimate candidates.
One is leading a team to a possible national championship (Ingram) and the other led the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns and whom Thursday won the Doak Walker award for best running back (Gerhart).
Then there’s Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, who doesn’t have a prayer, but who many believe is the most dominant player of the bunch.
Rating their high school days and overall accomplishments is also a tough chore. But without further ado, here is how we would vote based on high school credentials alone.
5. Ndamukong Suh (Grant HS, Portland, Ore.): A Parade All-American, Suh was voted the state’s 4A Defensive Player of the Year had 65 tackles including 10 sacks as a senior. He was also a star offensive lineman for a team that reached the state semifinals. He was also All-State on offense according to one media outlet. He was also a two-time all-league player in basketball and a state shot put champion, with a best toss of 61 feet, 4 inches.
4. Mark Ingram (Grand Blanc HS, Mich.; Flint Southwestern Academy HS, Mich.): Son of the former NFL receiver and Super Bowl winner by the same name, really stood out his final two seasons in high school rushing for 2,546 yards with 38 touchdowns. Was talk of him playing cornerback after he had 84 tackles and interceptions his senior year. Ingram made a huge name for himself on the track as well, with bests of 10.69 in the 100, 21.9 in the 200 and 23 feet, 8 inches in long jump.
3. Colt McCoy (Jim Ned HS, Tuscola, Texas): Coached by his dad Brad, McCoy was a two-time Associated Press 2A Offensive MVP and first-team all-state selection. His career numbers: 536 of 849 for 9,344 yards and 116 touchdowns, 1,575 rushing yards, 21 TDs. He’s the state’s all-time 2A passing leader and No. 4 overall. The team made the state finals his junior year in 2003 but Ned lost to Augustine, 28-7, and the Indians were a perfect 13-0 as a senior when they were upset by Canadian 32-27 in the quarterfinals. McCoy was also a safety on the team as a sophomore but when he sustained a concussion when he collided with current Baylor running back Jacoby Jones. He never played defense again. As a punter he averaged 42.2 per punt. He was also a four-year starter in basketball and all-state as a junior when he averaged 17 points per game. In track, he was a three-time regional qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles and mile relay.
2. Tim Tebow (Nease HS, Point Vedra, Fla.): After playing linebacker and tight end as a freshman at Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville), he was named Florida Player of the Year two years in a row, including his senior year when he led Nease to its first and only 4A state title. In the state title game he accounted for a state-title game record of six touchdowns in a 44-37 win over Armwood. His senior statistics were 216 of 340 attempts for 3,302 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions and he rushed for 1,163 yards and 21 touchdowns. His career statistics 9,940 passing yards, 3,169 rushing, 95 passing TDs, 63 rushing). His career total offense of 12,960 yards is a state record. In 2007, he was one of just two quarterbacks picked to the FHSAA’s All-Century team that listed the top 33 football players in Florida’s 100-year history of high school football. The other was Daunte Culpepper. He also played baseball and basketball at Nease.
1. Toby Gerhart (Norco HS, Calif.): One of the nation’s top two-sport athletes, Gerhart broke the California career rushing mark by more than 1,000 yards with 9,662, including 3,233 yards and 39 touchdowns his senior year. He led Norco to a Division V Southern Section championship. His career rushing mark was the third most ever in the United States. On the baseball field, he batted .549 as a junior and earned All-state honors. Baseball America considered him one of the top 50 high school prospects. He also earned three varsity letters in basketball and also graduated as the valedictorian of his class. The baseball prowess and academic standing push him over the top in my book, by the slimmest of margins over Tebow and McCoy.
What do you think? E-mail Mitch Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org.