Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Doesn't it figure that the Heisman Trophy
race has become even more muddled with the "injury" to Kansas State quarterback
Collin Klein on many levels?
The first level is, here it is early November and we're talking about Collin
Klein perhaps winning the Heisman.
Two months ago, if you could separate Collin Klein from Calvin Klein, you'd
have been in the minority, a very small minority.
In its preseason football issue, Sports Illustrated listed the 10 players most
likely to win the Heisman. None of them were named Klein.
The Associated Press had his team 22nd in its preseason top-25, no-man's land.
To its credit, CBSSportsline did have Klein in a tie for fifth - with Florida
State quarterback E.J. Manuel - in the preseason Heisman race. At least they'd
heard of him.
Coming out of high school, Klein was a three-star prospect who was basically
ignored by the big boys. Those teams go after the four- and five-star players,
not "threes." So, it's not like he's used to going unnoticed.
(On a side note, I love to see the guys who slap rankings on high school
players miss so badly. They put these labels on kids, many of whom they only
see on tape, if at all, and then it backfires with a player like Klein. That's
cool. If he wins the Heisman or not, he proved that a "three-star" kid could
hang with anybody).
Now we wonder if Klein is hurt. He left Saturday's game against Oklahoma State
in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury (concussion?) and the Wildcats
are mum on the subject.
You have to hope the injury isn't serious for his sake and for the unbeaten
But what if it is? What if Klein is out for a week or two? What if he's out for
the rest of the season?
Who's next on the Heisman hit parade? (And remember, 71 of the 76 winners of
the stiff-armed trophy have been either a quarterback or a running back).
Does Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's truly wondrous linebacker, become the new
frontrunner? If he didn't play for the Fighting Irish would he, as a defender,
even be considered?
Or does Kenjon Barner, Oregon's burner of a running back, become the newest man
of the hour?
A 321-yard rushing effort and five touchdowns against Southern Cal on Saturday
surely didn't hurt.
How about Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron? He engineered a miraculous rally
against LSU with a lot of voters watching Saturday.
Heck, even Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is being mentioned. His
Buckeyes are undefeated, but the fact Ohio State can't play for the Big Ten
title or go to a bowl, or compete for the national title because of its
probation, will likely doom him in the end.
We've already burned through Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley, West
Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Oklahoma
quarterback Landry Jones, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, South Carolina
running back Marcus Lattimore, Arkansas running back Knile Davis, Georgia
defensive lineman Jarvis Jones, Southern Cal wide receiver Robert Woods and
Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas (who was supposed to be in Barner's spot
before Barner took it over).
You get the idea.
That brings us back to Klein, a truly good story. He's gone from
"nowheresville" to atop the race for the most coveted award in college
football, lifting a team little was expected of, to national prominence.
And he's a senior. That's kind of rare these days, too, when the top players
usually bolt for the NFL after their junior season. He didn't bolt because he
probably wouldn't have been drafted. That makes his story even better.
Let's hope Kansas State is being coy about his "injury" and is using it as just
a ploy to keep upcoming opponents in the dark.
We can only hope.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
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