By Kyle Galdeira | December 7, 2018 10:48 a.m. EST
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – As Heisman Saturday approaches, the drama around which quarterback will take home the strike-a-pose hardware continues to swell to North Shore-like proportions.
On Thursday night, many observers were hoping to get a clearer perspective as to whether Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray were in line for the Heisman as a collection of year-end awards were presented. At the College Football Awards special in Atlanta, Tagovailoa picked up the Maxwell Award (player of the year) and the Walter Camp Award (best player), while Murray was selected for the Davey O’Brien Award (nation’s top quarterback) and Associated Press Player of the Year.
While we won’t know for sure if these precursory awards will translate into Heisman success, recent results indicate that both gunslingers are essentially co-favorites to hoist the hardware at this point. Tagovailoa could be viewed as having history on his side as the past four Maxwell and last five Walter Camp award winners have also gone on to win the Heisman. However, four of the last five quarterbacks who won the O’Brien but not the Maxwell (as is the case with Murray) were then handed the Heisman.
As I mentioned on Monday when joining Chris Hart on the Sports Animals, the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world in which we live has helped Murray gain late-season momentum as he thrived in the Big 12 Championship game, while Tagovailoa struggled against Georgia before exiting with a recently repaired ankle injury in the SEC title tilt. Both candidates are deserving of Heisman fame as Murray was responsible for 51 touchdowns, while Tagovailoa tossed 37 touchdown passes compared to four picks, and led the unbeaten Alabama squad to the College Football Playoff’s top seed.
Historically, Murray would become the first player to take over for a departing Heisman winner (Baker Mayfield) and win the honor the following season, and is in line to become Oklahoma’s seventh Heisman winner.
If Tagovailoa wins, he would become Alabama’s third Heisman recipient (joining Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015), and the school’s first quarterback to claim the award.
With so much honor and prestige surrounding the presentation of the trophy tomorrow, I hope that Heisman voters took the full season of work turned in by both quarterbacks into consideration prior to casting their ballots.
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