Knee-Jerk Reactions: What Makes a Heisman Season?

By ExtendingthePlay
Dec. 11, 2016

Saturday night in NYC, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson was named the 2016 Heisman trophy winner, a choice that shouldn't have shocked any college football fans.

Jackson, the runaway favorite since September, had little problem fending off the field of competitors. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson of Clemson was the clear-cut number two in the voting, with Baker Mayfield, Jabrill Peppers, and Dede Westbrook rounding out the front row.

But as I sat and watched Lamar Jackson, a guy who looks more like a slot receiver than a quarterback, raise the trophy, I couldn't help but think: What makes a Heisman season?

I've come up with 4 things in no particular order that will always help towards a Heisman campaign.

1. Contending team

2. Strong/Record breaking stats

3. Media love

4. "Heisman moments"

1. Contending team

Contending for what? Well, that can be relative.

What I really mean is a team that is winning and has something that they are working towards. For instance, a shot at the CFP, or a division/conference title, etc.

Whatever team the contender is on has to be in these discussions for us to care about what he is doing.

Often times, we love to see guys taking their teams to new heights, even if they don't necessarily win championships (See RGIII 2011, Manziel 2012.)

It isn't enough just to win. You have to be in the discussions of being able to make waves in college football.

2. Strong/record breaking stats

Numbers and stats that will shock us. "Video game numbers" as we like to call them. The numbers you show me should make my Madden guys want to kick it up a notch.

We have just come to expect this. There are so many guys who have come before you and done more than you have. What can you show me I haven't already seen?

In 2007, Tim Tebow shocked the football world being the first player ever to rush for 20 TDs and throw for another 20 in the same season.

Since then, 5 other players have achieved the same thing, including Jackson, making it no longer impressive.

Show us something we can be amazed about and wonder if anyone will ever be able to do again.

3. Media love

Jabrill Peppers committed live on ESPN coming out of high school

The media has to know your name. Plain and simple.

Whether that is because you were a highly touted recruit and have a loudmouth coach who won't shut up about you (looking at you, Peppers) or because you made some waves the year before and you've been put on a few watch lists, they just need to know who you are.

Some can do it by coming out of nowhere, but even then they need to make waves early enough for people to start tuning in to their games.

4. "Heisman moments"

This one is stated over and over. It goes right along with media love, because the media love to pummel a highlight to death.

A "Heisman moment" a moment where, when you watch it, simply have to watch it again. It's visually amazing, it has importance on the season, it shows character, leadership, determination, etc.

They are the moments that make you sit back and go "Wow, I just witnessed greatness."

I mean who could forget Lamar Jackson's hurdle vs. Syracuse, or Cam Newton's 50 yard run against LSU in 2010, or Manziel's pass vs. Alabama in 2012,


Bottom line: Many things need to go right for you to win an award like the Heisman. Some of the best football players ever came and went without ever sitting on that front row. But in the end, to have the opportunity to do so means you took the moments that were given to you and seized every last one of them. And because of that, I will always love the race for the trophy.