According to their website, The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the “Most Outstanding Player in College Football”. The problem is, it rarely is given to that player. The positional breakdown on Heisman winners has been:
43 Running Backs
4 Wide Receivers
2 Tight Ends
1 Defensive Player
This would mean that only once in college football history has a defensive player been the most outstanding (and Charles Woodson did play a little WR in there too). Also, an Offensive Lineman has never been the most outstanding player? I find this hard to believe.
It is understandable at the production of offense from the QB and RB position is recognized, but as a draftnik, there are plenty of years where other positions need to be considered. This year is that year.
The Heisman race has been a bit muted this year without a clear front runner or insane stat grabber to secure the trophy. Sure, we could just give it to a top QB on a top team like Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. Perhaps even a RB carrying an offense like Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III could win it. But, they shouldn’t. Here is my pick and the most outstanding player in college football:
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Neal IS the most outstanding player in college football. He has been dominant on nearly every single snap I have seen week in and week out. It’s not just because I am an NFL Draft guy and Neal has those NFL traits of size, strength, and athleticism. Most of all, he has been a huge reason for the Crimson Tide’s success and, even in their loss, he was the best player on the field. When an Tackle can do what he does in the pass and run game, that deserves the highest recognition.
The highest a pure offensive lineman has finished in the Heisman voting has been 2nd in 1973: John Hicks of Ohio State. Only one other time as an Offensive Lineman been in the Top 4 of voting (Orlando Pace, also of Ohio State) in 1996. They are overlooked, even when anchoring top teams and being a large reason for QB or RB success.
This should be the year that an Offensive Lineman wins it. With no clearcut winner and a dominant offense for Alabama, Neal is the piece keeping that cog running. Despite all of this, he won’t even get a vote. I plead to the Heisman voters out there to give him actual consideration as the guy who is just dominating defenses and is truly deserving of college football’s highest honor.