My Heisman Ballot: Mason, Winston, Manziel

NEW YORK – With Jameis Winston receiving the 79th Heisman Trophy on Saturday night in a landslide vote, I wanted to disclose and explain my ballot.

As I tweeted last night, I voted Tre Mason first, Winston second and Johnny Manziel third and submitted my ballot last Sunday after the conclusion of the conference championship games. I will never understand the more than 100 voters who submitted ballots before those games were played. I mean what do you tell a player who has a game like Mason did if you voted before the SEC Championship?

I put Mason ahead of Winston for several reasons.

Mason’s 1,621 yards and 22 rushing scores lead the SEC and that means more to me than throwing for 3,820 yards in the ACC. Running for 164 yards and a score against Alabama and 304 yards and four TDs against Missouri only solidified my position in voting for Mason. Heading into the Iron Bowl I had him third, after I was slightly favoring Winston, but after Atlanta I looked deeper into the stats and the history, and it was clear to me Mason was the more worthy player. Whenever you’re closing in on Bo Jackson, and Tim Tebow all-time stats, you’re doing something very special.

I have felt Mason is the most underrated and under-appreciated player in the SEC, if not the country, all season. If he were doing the same thing on a team which had more attention early in the season, he wouldn’t have been this “late arrival” the national folks made him out to be. I’m not sure how a 1,000-yard rusher last season, who already topped 1,000 before the Iron Bowl this season, was such an unknown to so many people. I’m not sure I’d take any other player in the country on 3rd or 4th down and less than 7 yards to go.

I felt Winston had a tremendous season on the field and he’s clearly an incredible athlete, but I don’t believe the opponents he faced are of the same ilk. His stats are very impressive, but  if stats are all that matter then Derek Carr should’ve won in a landslide.

As far as the allegations of sexual assault, which are far more serious than any football award or game, I did not hold that against Winston. I’m not going to pretend to know more than law enforcement or lawyers and he was not charged with anything. I can’t rationalize penalizing him for something he denies happened, though had he been charged I would not have voted for Winston at all.

I had Manziel third and it went far beyond his gaudy stats. His playmaking ability is second to none and might be the most difficult player to plan for in the country. But his losses were enough for me to put him third, rather than second ahead of Winston.

So there’s some insight into why I voted the way I did. Look forward to being a Heisman voter for years to come.