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Trimming the Field

Scott Haynes, College Editor

On Campus Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Heisman Trophy is the most coveted piece of hardware in college football with the exception of the Sears Trophy. The field is always wide open at the beginning of a season, but a true list first becomes relevant in mid-October. That is when the wheat is separated from the chaff so to speak, when the real contenders step up and the rest fade into the sunset. So, without further ado, here are the players that have a legitimate shot at the coveted award this year.

1. JASON WHITE: Perhaps the favorite right now to win the Heisman. It certainly helps that his team is the undisputed number one program in the land and will probably remain so until at least the Sugar Bowl. Playing for the Sooners shouldn't count against him though. His number are surely Heisman worthy, as he has completed 67.4 percent of his passes, for 2,040 yards. His TD-to-INT ratio is off the charts (22 TDs to four INTs) and he is as savvy a signal-caller as there is in the country.

B.J. Symons
B.J. Symons has completed 66.5 percent of his passes, for 3,506 yards and 32 TDs.
1A. B.J. SYMONS: White may be the favorite, but Symons is almost neck-and- neck. Detractors call him a product of the system, but the same can be said of White, whose team is dominant in all facets of the game. Symons had the unenviable task of replacing All-American Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, but that hasn't been a problem thus far. Symons' numbers are already mind-boggling and the season is just past the half way mark. He has completed 66.5 percent of his passes, for 3,506 yards and 32 TDs. Projected out including a bowl appearance, he will throw for over 6,000 yards and 50+ TDs. Those numbers may make it impossible to vote against him.

3. LARRY FITZGERALD: He is only a sophomore, but has clearly distinguished himself as the top receiver in the country, if not the top player overall. The 6-3, 210-pounder is unstoppable and is coming off an eight-catch, 207-yard, two TD performance against Rutgers. The numbers are starting to pile up. On the year, he now has 45 catches, for 879 yards and 13 TDs. He has a TD in 12 straight games, just one shy of the NCAA-record set by Michigan State's Charles Rogers. Just a sophomore, he is expected to return for at least one more season with the Panthers. However, improving on this campaign may be difficult to do.

4. PHILIP RIVERS: If any quarterback can hold a candle to the play of White and Symons, it is this NC State signal-caller. By the time it is all said and done, Rivers name will sit atop most the records in the ACC. He is having yet another tremendous season in Raleigh, despite his team's unwillingness to cooperate in the win column. Rivers has completed almost 70 percent of his passes this year, for 2,539 yards and 18 TDs, with just five interceptions. Last week, he tied Chris Weinke's ACC-record of 79 career TD passes. He could have close to 100 when the season comes to a close.

5. KEVIN JONES: He may not have the gaudy numbers that many expected, but that shouldn't deter from the fact that he is the most talented tailback in the country. Jones has been injury prone this year, but has still managed to average 5.6 yards per carry, amassing 682 yards and nine TDs. He seems to be getting better as the season wears on. In a head-to-head showdown with the nation's leading rusher at the time (Syracuse's Walter Reyes), Jones blew the competition away, rushing for 131 yards and two TDs, averaging almost seven yards a carry against the Orangemen. A nationally-televised game against West Virginia mid-week, followed by a big showdown with the Miami Hurricanes, will either make or break Jones' legitimacy in this race.

6. CHRIS PERRY: The early season favorite has tapered off a bit, but this Wolverine's numbers are still worth considering. Perry is sitting at 999 yards on the year, with 12 TDs. The duel threat also has 228 yards receiving and an additional two scores. He is coming off a rout of Illinois, in which he notched three first half scores, en route to a 140-yard performance. With huge games to close out the year, Perry, like Jones, will have a chance to get back in the race, or disappear all together.

THE BEST OF THE REST: David Greene (QB, Georgia), Steven Jackson (RB, Oregon State), Mike Williams (WR, USC), Eli Manning (QB, Ole Miss), Rod Rutherford (QB, Pittsburgh), Derrick Knight (RB, Boston College), Michael Turner (RB, Northern Illinois), Reggie Williams (WR, Washington) and Rashaun Woods (WR, Oklahoma State).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Haynes


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