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Heisman winner: a quarterback

Dec. 7, 2001 at 10:52 AM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The only thing certain about Saturday's Heisman Trophy presentation is the winner will be a quarterback.

Beyond that, the race for the 67th Heisman is too close to call.

The four finalists for the prestigous award, which goes to college football's top player, are Nebraska's Eric Crouch, Miami's Ken Dorsey, Florida's Rex Grossman and Oregon's Joey Harrington.

Crouch and Dorsey were honored in a preliminary awards ceremony Thursday night. Crouch won the Walter Camp Award as player of the year and the Davey O'Brien Award as the year's best quarterback.

Dorsey won the Maxwell Trophy as the best all-around player of the year.

The Hisman presentation will take place at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square instead of at the Downtown Athletic Club, which was damaged in the Sept.11 terrorist attacks.

"We are excited about the 2002 finalists for the Heisman Trophy," said Rudy Riska, executive director of the Heisman Trophy Trust. "These players have had phenomenal seasons across the board and anyone of them would be deserving of college football's highest honor."

Most of the votes were not returned until early this week, so a fifth finalist may be named prior to Saturday's ceremony.

Crouch is the double-threat of the four finalists. In addition to his 1,510 passing yards, the 6-1, 200-pound senior ranks second on the Cornhuskers with 1,115 rushing yards and 18 TDs on 203 carries. He has completed 56 percent (105-of-189) of his passes for seven scores with 10 interceptions.

Crouch's candidacy appeared to suffer a hit on Thanksgiving weekend when the Cornhuskers were routed by Colorado, 62-36. But, he carried 18 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns that

afternoon and the defeat was due more to a shaky Nebraska defense.

Nebraska has had two Heisman Trophy winners -- Johnny Rodgers in 172 and Mike Rozier in 1983.

Dorsey is the signal caller of the top-ranked Hurricanes, who Probably will play either Tennessee or Nebraska in the Rose Bowl for the national title.

The 6-5, 200-pound junior from Orinda, California has 23 touchdown passes this season against only nine interceptions and has completed 185-of-319 (58 percent) for an unbeaten team.

Dorsey was efficient but not spectacular in last week's win over Virginia Tech, completing 21-of-44 passes for 235 yards.

"The Heisman Trophy doesn't mean anything to me because we're going to the Rose Bowl," Dorsey said.

Quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde (1986) and Gino Torretta (1992)are the two Miami players to win the Heisman.

Grossman made his final pitch to become the first sophomore to win the Heisman by completing 33-of-51 passes for 362 yards and two scores in last week's 34-32 loss to Tennessee.

But his two-point conversion pass with 70 seconds left fell incomplete and the Gators tumbled out of the chasmpiomship picture.

A native of Bloomington, Ind.,Grossman has completed 66 percent (259-of-395) of his passes this season for 3,896 yards and 34 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He has also rushed

for five scores.

Grossman likely can count on a vote from his coach, Steve Spurrier, who won the Heisman in 1966. Another Gator quarterback, Danny Wuerffel, won in 1996.

Harrington may have hurt his Heisman Trophy chances by completing just 11-of-22 passes for 104 yards and fumbling late in a 17-14 win over Oregon State.

Harrington jumped into the national spotlight before the season when a large billboard outside New York's Penn Station proclaimed the senior from Portland, Ore., "Joey Heisman."

The 6-4, 220-pound Harrington has only five interceptions with 23 touchdowns and has thrown for 2,414 yards while completing 58 percent (186-of-322) of his attempts. He has seven rushing TDs on 55 carries.

Oregon has never had a Heisman Trophy winner.

Other players expected to receive votes include Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El as well as two stars on the other side of the ball -- defensive end Julius Peppers of North Carolina and Oklahoma defensive back Roy Williams. On Wednesday, Peppers received the Lombardi Award which recognizes the top lineman in the country.

Florida State's Chris Weinke won the award last season, the 24th quarterback to earn the honor.

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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