Why Robert Griffin III Should Win the Heisman

Each year, five players are gathered together in New York to receive one of the most prestigious awards in all of collegiate or professional sports, the Heisman trophy. The Heisman Trust Mission Statement reads that the award is given to the player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. It goes on to say that winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. Five players in all of college football were invited to the ceremony to receive the award. Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III, Wisconsin Badgers running back Monte Ball, Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson, and LSU Tigers defensive back Tryann Mathieu. All of these players have had exceptional seasons to get them in the running to see who will win the coveted award, but, in my eyes, one player stands above the rest, and that player is Robert Griffin III.

Robert Griffin III is arguably the best player to ever put on a Baylor uniform. You could even make the argument that he is one of the best people to ever walk the halls of the Waco campus. He graduated from his high-school class valedictorian, and is earning a law degree at Baylor that he will receive early. Griffin III is only supposed to be a running-type quarterback, which makes sense since he runs the hurdles in track season with times arguably good enough to get him into the Olympics on the men’s U.S. Men’s Olympic Track Team. Upon hearing this, you would assume Griffin is one of those quarterbacks who, when all else breaks down, tucks the ball and runs instead of keeping his eyes downfield to look for an open receiver. Well, that is incorrect. Griffin threw for nearly 4,000 yards this season in 12 games (3,998). His completion percentage was an admirable 72.4 percent with 36 touchdowns and six interceptions. All of this collaborated to a 192.3 rating for a quarterback who was just supposed to be a runner. As for a comparison, Heisman candidate, and possibly soon to be Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck is known for being the best prototypical passer in the college game and possibly one the best quarterback prospects ever. Well, Luck threw for 3,170 yards with a 70 percent completion percentage, along with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions which collaborated for a 167.5 rating. That stat comparison should speak volumes to how good of a passer Griffin really is at the college level. Oh, and just for the record, Griffin can still run seeing as he accounted for 644 yards rushing on the year for 9 touchdowns. His season stat line also includes a 15 yard reception.

It’s hard to imagine Baylor as a football powerhouse after their recent years of being the doormat of the Big 12. Although, after coach Art Briles took over, the team has improved each year to where they are presently at number 12 in the final BCS polls. But for an award where national attention is very important so the voters can see the candidates, Griffin had to make an impression to bring attention to the campus in Waco, Texas. Baylor was on national television their first week of the year against the TCU Horned Frogs and a very stingy Gary Patterson defense. What did Griffin do in this one? He and the Bears stunned the Horned Frogs in front of the country in a 50-48 victory where Griffin shined while passing for 21 of 27 completions for 359 yards and 5 touchdowns. To show how accurate Griffin is, in his first three games combined he had 12 incompletions and 13 touchdown passes. Yes, he had more touchdown passes than he did incompletions. His next time to shine came against the Oklahoma Sooners, a team the Bears had been 0-20 against in the history of the matchup. The Sooners were in for a rude awakening at Floyd Casey Stadium where the Bears shocked the nation and crushed the Sooners’ BCS title hopes in a thrilling 45-38 victory. Griffin went 21 of 34 for 479 yards and threw four touchdowns, the most important touchdown coming with just 8 seconds left in the game where he connected on a 34 yard pass to wide receiver Terrance Williams in the back corner of the end zone that ultimately put away the Sooners. The next time Griffin got the chance to be on national television was this past Saturday against Baylor’s rival, the Texas Longhorns. It hasn’t been much of a rivalry as of late with Texas owning the series. Longhorns head coach Mack Brown said as of late he has had trouble motivating his players to play Baylor. Not this year. Baylor jumped all over Texas early and often in a 48-24 victory where Griffin went 15 of 22 for 320 yards and two touchdowns; he also added two touchdowns to go along with his 32 yards rushing.

While the other candidates also put up great years, none of them are better than the statistical year Robert Griffin III put together at Baylor. Griffin accounted for 45 touchdowns this year while maintaining a 6:1 touchdown to interception ratio. To go along with these numbers, on a personal note, Griffin throws one of the prettiest deep balls I’ve ever seen. He has an effortless motion where he just flings the ball down field and it always seems to hit his receiver in stride beyond the defensive secondary. Also, one play that sets Griffin apart from the other candidates for the Heisman trophy is his one reception that happened in the first week of the season against TCU. It was late in the fourth quarter and the Bears trailed by one point and faced a fourth and 10 with the game on the line. The Bears called a risky play that involved a double pass from Griffin to wide receiver Kendall Wright, back to Griffin. Most of these plays involve the quarterback running up the sideline to avoid defenders, but this one had the quarterback running a seam route into the heart of the defense. The first pass was successful and Wright threw into a crowd where Griffin came up with the ball and was hit hard by multiple TCU defenders, but preserved the catch for a 15 yard gain that ultimately led to Baylor kicker Aaron Jones kicking the game winning field goal. To win the Heisman trophy, these are the kind of plays that set the winners apart from the rest of the candidates. Cam Newton, last year’s Heisman winner, caught a touchdown pass to put him above and beyond the candidates, and I believe Griffin’s catch, although it wasn’t for a touchdown, should be just as important in voters’ eyes this year when they place their ballot.

Griffin fits the criteria of a Heisman winner better than anyone else in the field this year. I acknowledge that each of the other candidates have had phenomenal years, but Griffin’s stand above and beyond the others. His pursuit of excellence has brought Baylor football to a place where people aren’t used to seeing it. He has also managed to do this while maintain his integrity and not letting the spotlight change him from the humble young man he is. No one has come forward to question the integrity of Robert Griffin, much less question his diligence, perseverance, and hard work not only on the football field, but in the classroom. After a period of time when past Heisman trophy winners have been under scrutiny, they should turn and give the award to a man that is considered the face of his entire University. A player that has brought a team and an entire University to new heights, a player that has been arguably the most valuable player in college football this season, and a player that is the most talented to ever wear his university’s jersey. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2011 Heisman trophy should be presented to the quarterback of the Baylor Bears out of Waco, Texas, Robert Griffin III.

-Colby
Co-founder and contributor to Day to Day Sports

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