Elliott’s 696 yards, 8 Touchdown post season run has him a favorite to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy.
All this talk that soon to be Junior Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott should shut it down for the 2015 season to avoid injury until he’s eligible for the NFL draft, are absurd.
With that being said, right now he is the leading candidate for the 2015 Heisman Trophy. He has a once in a lifetime opportunity to win the most recognized trophy in sports.
Sure the voters of the award have been biased towards quarterbacks the last ten to fifteen years, but Elliott, fresh off leading the Buckeyes to capturing the first ever National Championship Playoff by rushing for 696 yards and 8 touchdowns the last three games—setting records in the B1G Championship game, Sugar Bowl and National Championship Game—is the favorite.
Heisman winners from the past have benefited from a strong finish to the season prior to the one in which they won the award.
Troy Smith won the 2006 Heisman by the largest margin in history. Courtesy: Columbus Dispatch.
The last Buckeye Heisman Winner, Troy Smith, became the leading candidate for the 2006 award with his standout performances over Michigan (27-37, 300 passing yards, 1 touchdowns; 11 carries, 37 yards, 1 Touchdown) and out dueling another Heisman candidate, quarterback Brady Quinn of Notre Dame (19-28, 342 passing yards, 2 touchdowns; 13 carries, 66 yards) in the Fiesta Bowl by winning that game’s Offensive MVP to end the 2005 season.
Eddie George won the 6th Heisman Trophy for Ohio State. Photo Courtesy: Columbus Dispatch.
Eddie George, the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner, finished the season before his Heisman campaign strong as well. In the last three games of the 1994 season, George rushed for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns in wins over Wisconsin, Michigan and the 1995 Citrus Bowl loss to Alabama.
Elliot’s very impressive finish to the 2014 Season will propel and keep him fresh in the minds of voters across the country throughout spring practice until kickoff of the 2015 season.
There are some who don’t believe he’s the best candidate on his team. They point to the three quarterbacks that will be competing to start the season under center. J.T. Barrett did finish 5th in the 2014 Heisman voting, Braxton Miller was a leading candidate for the 2014 award before his injury, and we all saw what Cardale Jones did in the three biggest games of the season.
The last fifteen seasons have been difficult for runners to break through. The only running backs to win the Heisman were USC’s Reggie Bush—it was stripped from him due to recruiting violations at USC—and Alabama’s Mark Ingram.
“Zeke” has everything he’ll need from the offensive system, great supporting cast as well as the marketing genius and prestige of the Buckeye program to help him become the third running back in a decade and a half to win the award.
Just remember this, the twenty-five pound bronze statue is that of Ed Smith—a running back from New York University and professionally with the Boston Redskins and Green Bay Packers—stiff arming his competitors, not a quarterback dropping back to pass. I like Elliott’s chances to bring Heisman Trophy number eight to the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex.
Oh, by the way, Buckeye running backs have won the Heisman every twenty years since Howard “Hopalong Cassady” in brought the second stiff arm trophy to campus in 1955. Eddie George won in ’95, twenty years after Archie won his second in ’75. The stars are aligned for Ezekiel in 2015.