By Kyle Galdeira | December 8, 2018 10:20 a.m. EST
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – After a solid week of hype, prognostication and speculation, the big day has arrived as the winner of the 2018 Heisman Trophy will be announced tonight.
What started out as a three-way battle for the prestigious trophy has evolved into a two-horse race that could result in a photo finish between Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins is worthy of consideration after posting 4,580 passing yards and 47 touchdowns through the air – both Big Ten records – but will likely be the second runner-up when the voting results are announced this evening.
On Thursday 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.
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.
The three Heisman hopefuls made their way to New York City on Friday morning, and after resting for a few hours, kicked off Heisman Weekend by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Prior to reaching the trading floor, the candidates took part in a media roundtable session, and opened up about the prestige and excitement building throughout the week.
“We’re all here for a reason, and I’m excited,” Murray said. “It’s fun for us, and I think this has been the best year in a while as far as offense goes. It’s been a fun year.”
Tagovailoa, who is now an underdog to Murray after being installed as a favorite throughout most of the season, appeared calm and loose, even when asked if he would be disappointed if Murray picks up the Heisman nod tonight.
“I can only handle what I can handle, I’m just grateful to be here as one of the finalists,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s a blessing. You have individual accolades that you dream of…but life goes on. I am who I am.”
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.
“It would mean a lot, it’s a childhood dream to be here and win it,” said Tagovailoa when asked about the prospects of winning the Heisman. “It would represent so much more than just myself…my culture and everything I stand for.”
Murray was quick to praise Tagovailoa, and also assured the media that while he still intends to play professional baseball after the season wraps up, he is focused on taking care of business on the gridiron.
“Just the way we relate to each other, nobody has the ball in their hands as much as us,” said Murray of his ‘Bama counterpart. “He’s having an incredible season, and he’s a great dude off the field as well.”
Regardless of who wins the Heisman Trophy tonight, the good news for college football fans is we can look forward to an epic matchup between Tagovailoa’s Crimson Tide and Murray’s Sooners on Dec. 29 at the Orange Bowl – the semifinal tilt of the College Football Playoff.
Tagovailoa, who heaped praise upon Alabama and the training staff for helping him rehab via a rigorous regimen, which included his receiving electric stimulation during media interviews, and vowed that he will be ready for the matchup.
“I’ll be back to play in the Orange Bowl,” Tagovailoa said. “I should be good by the time the game comes around.”