Heisman will go to a quarterback

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 10, 2000

With apologies to Ole Miss fans, you can put your money on the 2000 Heisman Trophy winner being a quarterback.

Ole Miss running back Deuce McAllister is being pushed hard by the Rebel sports information team, but he will have his work cut out.

The top four candidates appear to be quarterbacks in the early going.

Email newsletter signup

Leading the list is Purdue’s Drew Brees. Not since Joe Theisman has a guy had a name that just begged for the big award.

But Brees doesn’t need a catchy name. He has been in the national spotlight the past two years, having thrown for 3,983 yards and 39 touchdowns in 1998 and 3,909 yards and 25 touchdowns against a tougher schedule last year.

Brees can win the Heisman if he has big games against the likes of Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State, as well as Ohio State.

Brees’ toughest obstacle will be finding someone to replace wide receiver Chris Daniels, who set a Big Ten single-season reception record last year with 121 catches for 1,236 yards and 7 touchdowns. Also gone is Randall Lane, who had 52 catches for 690 yards.

The sentimental choice may be 28-yard old Chris Weinke, returning at quarterback for Florida State, which won the national title last year.

Last season, Weinke passed for 3,103 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Weinke will also be looking for new receivers after losing Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans

Florida State has eight bowl teams on its schedule, so Weinke will be put to the test.

Not many people knew about freshman quarterback Michael Vick of Virginia Tech before last season.

Everybody knows about sophomore quarterback Michael Vick now.

Vicke, who finished third in the Heisman voting as a freshman last year, spearheaded a Hokie offense which averaged 41.4 points a game with a solid arm and fancy footwork.

However, with only three defensive starters returning for Virginia Tech, Vick may have more pressure on him to score even more points.

One team with no problem rebuilding is Nebraska, and quarterback Eric Crouch should reap the benefits.

Last season, Crouch was the first quarterback to lead the Cornhuskers in rushing since 1955, gaining 889 yards on the ground, along with 1,269 through the air.

Crouch will be bolstered by an offensive line this year considered to be among Nebraska’s best-ever.

Two other quarterbacks worth noting are Quincy Carter of Georgia and Josh Heupel of Oklahoma.

Perhaps the top non-quarterback Heisman candidate is Texas Christian running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who led the nation last year in rushing with 1,850 yards and set an NCAA single-game record 406 rushing yards against Texas-El Paso.

OK, it helps when you play people like UTEP.

Tomlinson has the benefit of his entire offensive line returning.

Maryland running back LaMont Jordan returns after gaining 1,632 yards on the ground.

Rounding out the top 10 candidates are two receivers -&160;Freddie Milons of Alabama and Santana Moss of Miami.

If Milons did win the Heisman, he would become the first Alabama player to do so.

Needless to say, players like Deuce, UCLA&160;running back DeShaun Foster and Michigan running back Anthony Thomas cannot afford an off week with the type of caliber leading the pack. Then again, that’s why they strap it on each week.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.