For the third year in a row I was fortunate enough to represent the Capital Region in New York as a voter for college football's Heisman Memorial Trophy. Below was the official ballot I cast for this year's award. Three things are important to remember 1) Official voters can only cast a ballot for three players.(3 points for first place, 2 points for second, 1 point for third place) 2) My voting process follows that of which is required by each Heisman voter. The award asks voters to cast their ballots to the most outstanding players in college football in the United States whose performances best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. 3) Every single college football player in the country is eligible for the award, regardless of the level of play. Below is my official and reasoning for my votes.

First Place: Oklahoma Quarterback Baker Mayfield

The Heisman Trophy is not a one week award. This is a September-December award. There is no player this season in college football that was more outstanding than Baker Mayfield. The Sooners quarterback is the first athlete I have ever voted for twice in my tenure as a voter (more on that later). Mayfield separated himself from the rest of the players in the country on the weekend of November 4th when he threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns in a 62-52 win over their rival and nationally ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. In six matchups against ranked opponents this season, Mayfield threw for a combined twenty two touchdowns while compiling five wins in those matchups. The Sooners have qualified for the college football playoff this season, despite losing an NFL wide receiver and two (TWO) NFL running backs. Baker Mayfield fit the two biggest criteria I judge in voting for the Heisman. How did he perform in the biggest games of the season? How much of an influence did he have in his team's success? Has the season progressed, Mayfield performed better than any other player in the country this entire season.

 

Second Place: Penn State Running Back Saquon Barkley

I was very surprised on Monday night to find out that Barkley was not invited to New York City this year as a finalist. Barkley took the lead for me in September following his 40 touch, 300 yards 1 touchdown in a road win against a tough Iowa team. Each week that followed until November, Barkley held the top spot by a wide margin. The Nittany Lions running back did it all: Running, blocking, catching, returning in efforts to help his team continue to win. For a majority of voters, Barkley somehow was penalized for his team's losses against Ohio State and Michigan State in which he played poorly?  However voters did not factor in that when he played poorly, Penn State did as well? That still confuses me. Where would Penn State football be without Barkley? The running back had what I like to call a "program changing season". In the past and I believe rightfully so, Heisman voters have given recognition to athletes who have changed their program on a national scale in due part to one athlete stand out performances. (Tim Tebow, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariotta). How many voters knew that Barkley finished the final three games of the year with over 300 combined yards, 7 touchdowns on barely over 50 touches and a 3-0 record? Barkley had two bad weeks. Again this is a season long award and Barkley did enough to be #2 in my eyes.

Third Place: Stanford Running Back Bryce Love

Love had a fantastic season for the Cardinal. He without question deserved to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy with close to 2,000 yards rushing. However it's hard for me to have made a case that he deserved a vote over Mayfield or Barkley. Yes I was one of the East Coast voters who stayed up and watched him play. (OR DVR'd his games on some nights). Look at Love against the best competition this season: Notre Dame- 20 carries, 125 yards (25% of the yardage came on one run). USC (loss)-22, 125 yards and 1 touchdown (40% of his yardage came on one run) Love had thirteen runs of over 50 yards this season Quick math tells you with 1,900 yards on the season that is close to 35% of his total yardage on 13 plays! That is not a dominating back. It is an example of an incredibly gifted back with great speed. Love became the perfect Pac 12 candidate that looked good for East Coast voters. One to two plays that made him look on SportsCenter Sunday morning. Plus only six catches out of the backfield the entire season. Love is very good, but not good enough to get a top 2 vote.

 

Why no love for Lamar Jackson?

If you have listened to the show the past few months, you know I really like Lamar Jackson. I voted for Jackson to win the award last year. He was my preseason favorite this year. Jackson made a full highlight tape against Syracuse the past two years. What hurt Jackson's Heisman status in my judgement was his performance in his biggest games of the year. Last year he destroyed Florida State on a College Gameday weekend and almost beat Clemson on the road in an ABC televised primetime game. By the time Louisville's game against Houston rolled around in 2016, his lead was already too big to be caught for the award. This year against Clemson, Louisville was beat by 26 and Jackson was held under 70 yards rushing. NC State, Wake Forest and Boston College are all bowl eligible teams. All ended in loses for the Cardinals on an average close to double digits. Jackson's best statistical games came against a bad Florida State team along with Syracuse, Murray State and Kentucky. Jackson is a great player but not enough for the award.

Who else? No seriously who else?!

McKenize Milton from UCF? Rashaad Penny from San Diego State? Raquan Smith from Georgia? Kerryon Johnson from Auburn? Point to a BIG game on their schedule that made them deserve the award. Then point to another. Then another. All of my Top 3 had much better performances that these guys listed in this section. I would struggle to even make a case for anyone either than my Top 4