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Yes, WV, Heisman candidates do grow here

August 21, 2018

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

Here are the opinions du jour.

n It has been a while since there has been a Heisman Trophy campaign in the state of West Virginia.

Sixteen years, to be exact.

It was the 2002 football season and Marshall University was promoting star quarterback Byron Leftwich for the most prestigious individual player award in collegiate football.

That’s quite a hiatus.

Which is precisely why it’s so refreshing finally to see another legitimate Heisman Trophy campaign in the Mountain State. West Virginia University is promoting star quarterback Will Grier for the Heisman and justifiably so.

The 6-foot-2, 223-pound senior quarterback possesses all the statistics, all the star power and all the pizzazz that are prerequisites for Heisman consideration.

Nobody looks better at striking the pose in 2018 than Grier.

So, does the Mountaineers’ star have a chance?

Yes.

And no.

Since the 1989 Heisman Trophy race, four collegiate football players from West By God have finished in the top six of the balloting.

That’s the good news.

The other side of the coin?

The best anyone finished was third.

It started with former WVU star quarterback Major Harris in the 1989 Heisman competition. Harris finished third in the balloting with 709 points trailing winner Andre Ware and runner-up Anthony Thompson. Notre Dame’s Tony Rice was fourth, followed by Darian Hagan.

Harris had 115 first-place votes, 115 second-place and 134 third-place votes.

The next candidate was Marshall’s Randy Moss in the 1998 Heisman race. The dazzling wide receiver was fourth in the balloting with 253 points (17 first-place votes, 56 seconds, 90 thirds).

The winner was Charles Woodson, followed by Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf and Moss. This is still considered the best Heisman Trophy class of all-time.

Next, Marshall’s star quarterback Chad Pennington competed for the 2000 Heisman. He finished fifth with 247 points (21 first-place votes, 45 seconds, 94 thirds). The winner was Ron Dayne, followed by Joe Hamilton, Michael Vick, Drew Brees and Pennington.

Then, another Marshall standout quarterback - Leftwich - was in the running for the 2003 Heisman award. Finishing the season with a broken tibia hindered Leftwich’s chances, but he still finished sixth in the balloting with 152 points (22 first-place votes, 26 seconds, 34 thirds).

The winner in 2003 was Carson Palmer, followed by Brad Banks, Larry Johnson, Willie McGahee, Ken Dorsey and Leftwich.

Now, it’s time to add Grier’s name to this list.

Well, guess what?

WVU isn’t wasting any time. Football sports information director Mike Montoro is over-seeing a campaign based on Grier’s first name - Will.

Go to the web site Grier7Heisman.com and fans will find eight different episodes. They include the Will to Succeed, Will to Win, Will to Prepare, Will to Compete, Will to Give, Will to Love, Will to Lead and Will to finish.

Hey, where there’s a Will there’s a way.

It was high time we had another Heisman Trophy candidate in West Virginia.

n Don’t get too excited or too concerned about Marshall’s scrimmage on Saturday.

For starters, well, several starters didn’t play much or at all. The list included running backs Keion Davis and Tyler King, wideout Tyre Brady, first- and second-team centers Levi Brown and Nate Devers, defensive lineman Ryan Bee and star linebacker Chase Hancock, who played about 10 snaps.

Also, the scrimmage was very situational based, which can either enhance or hinder.

We’ll know more in the next two weeks.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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