- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

Over the last four years, the Heisman hypemeisters have provided clear preseason favorites in Michael Vick, Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams and Peyton Manning.
This season, you're more likely to spot Steve Spurrier sporting a game-day tux than a consensus Heisman pick. Instead, the college ranks are crawling with psuedo-suitors to the game's most coveted prize.
Intertops.com, an Internet betting site based in Antigua, released its Heisman odds earlier this week. A closer look at the list reveals that each of the primary contenders begins the season with a major hole in his Heisman resume:

1. Eric Crouch, Sr., QB, Nebraska (3-1 odds)
Big Red's little runt has spent the last three years confounding critics, rushing for 2,388 yards and 42 touchdowns as the trigger-man for the Cornhuskers offense.
"Because of his ability to run the option attack, the amount of television exposure and the fact that Nebraska should be vying for this year's national championship, Eric Crouch has emerged as our favorite to win the Heisman," said Simon Noble, CEO and co-founder of Intertops.com.
What Noble doesn't tell you is that Crouch launched his campaign last week with an atrocious performance in No. 4 Nebraska's ugly 21-7 victory over TCU, rushing for just 69 yards on 24 carries.
Crouch has two glaring weaknesses as a candidate. First, he has a suspect arm in terms of both strength and accuracy. Last year, he completed just 47.3 percent of his passes and rarely went downfield.
Second, Crouch isn't exactly built (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) for the 40 hits-a-game pounding he takes running the option in Lincoln. Thus far in his career, he has defied the odds and avoided a season-ending injury, though he dislocated his shoulder last October and sat out spring practice after surgery. This could be the year the odds catch up, and Crouch doesn't survive the season, much less the Heisman race.

2. Ken Simonton, Sr., RB, Oregon State (4-1)
As the cornerstone of Dennis Erickson's offense, Simonton is attempting to become the first Pac-10 player to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
On the bright side, Simonton has cornered the market on cool among the contenders. In typical Simonton fashion, the OSU media relations machine has sent Heisman voters T-shirts bearing the message, "Give Ken Some Love."
Unfortunately for Simonton, a litany of factors is working against him he's small (5-8, 191) and excruciatingly slow for a Heisman hopeful (4.58 speed in the 40-yard dash). Plus, he might as well be playing on Mars.
"Hey, I'd love to win it, but I'm not holding my breath," said Simonton, who once said the average person probably thinks Corvallis is a STD. "In a perfect world, I'd eliminate most of this because it's not really who I am, it's just what I do. It's not really important in the scope of things going on in the world."

3. Damien Anderson, Sr., RB, Northwestern (5-1)
Anderson is last season's leading returning rusher (2,063 yards) and Heisman vote-getter (fifth). He also plays for Northwestern, and despite a few recent blips of life, the Big Ten's purple patsies aren't going to earn Anderson any publicity with their status as a national non-power.

4. Chris Simms, Jr., QB, Texas (6-1)
Phil's son has done absolutely nothing to merit the mountain of hype that has piled up around him in the preseason. In limited college action, Simms has thrown more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes (10). Most insiders don't think Simms is the most potent player in Austin; NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper calls Texas wideout Roy Williams the "most feared player in college football."
Some don't even think Phil's son is the top quarterback on the team. Senior backup Major Applewhite has thrown for nearly five times as many yards as Simms in his career (7,974), holds 40 school passing records and was the 1999 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
"People must think he's Phil Simms," said Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, mocking Simms proponents on a recent radio show.

5. Woody Dantzler, Sr., QB, Clemson (8-1)
The Tigers' double threat was a Heisman darkhorse last year before a midseason injury kept him from becoming the first player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 2,000 yards.
Like Simms, Dantzler isn't even the most exciting player on his team that title goes to freshman wideout Roscoe Crosby, a 6-3, 200-pound Randy Moss lookalike. Like Crouch, Dantzler has dubious arm strength and is just one ill-advised scramble from an early exit. And like former Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop, Dantzler loathes the politicking that has become an integral component of any Heisman campaign.
"I wouldn't put this on nobody," Dantzler told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal this week. "A lot of privacy's getting taken from me."

6. Ken Dorsey, Jr., QB, Miami (10-1)
The Hurricane's gunner put up huge numbers last season (2,727 passing yards, 25 touchdowns) when he had Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne as targets. Moss and Wayne are gone, and this season's 'Canes are likely to be far more rush-oriented with the college game's best stable of tailbacks and most daunting offensive line. Forty handoffs a game does not a Heisman winner make.

7. T.J. Duckett, Jr., RB, Michigan State (12-1)
The Spartans' 6-1, 252-pound bruiser rushed for 1,353 yards last season, but Michigan State finished 5-6, reducing Duckett to afterthought status. This season, the Spartans likely will finish 7-4, leaving Duckett languishing in East Lansing once again.

8. Joey Harrington, Sr., QB, Oregon (15-1)
Can anyone really vote for a guy who allowed a 10-story billboard of himself to be erected across from Madison Square Garden?
"I could not believe how big it was," Chris Simms said after seeing the billboard, which the university purchased for $250,000. "It looks bigger than seven stories. I thought, 'Holy cow, I'm glad that's not me.' I don't need that in my life right now."
Neither did the Oregon taxpayers.

9. Lee Suggs, Jr., RB, Virginia Tech (20-1)
Tech's Mr. Touchdown rushed for 1,280 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, but there was another guy in the backfield keeping opposing defenses off-balance. Life after Vick is likely to be an eye-opening, and gap-closing, experience for Suggs.
10. George Godsey, Sr., QB, Georgia Tech (20-1)
Joe Hamilton was more exciting than Godsey, faster than Godsey, stronger than Godsey and more accurate than Godsey … and he did't win the Heisman Trophy. Better add another "0" to that 20-1 prediction.
So, where do we turn for our 2001 heroes after surveying such a muddled mass of mediocrity among the skill-position set?
Take a look at the list of "Draft Diamonds" on B6. This is a composite list of the players the NFL insiders we consulted considered the most coveted in the college ranks. Notice that the top three players on the list are all linemen Tennessee defensive tackle John Henderson, Miami offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers.
According to the folks who are paid to do nothing but figure out such things, these are the three most valuable players in the college game. No lineman has been awarded the Heisman Trophy since Notre Dame's Leon Hart in 1949. But maybe it's time for Heisman voters to rediscover smash over flash and take the trophy back to the trenches.
"I don't see it happening," said Henderson, last season's Outland Trophy winner. "But I've never been worried about awards and stuff. That's politics. I just play football."

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