By Krista Pirtle
He is one of three players in the history of the FBS with more than 10,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing, graduated both high school and college early, competed in the Olympic Trials at the age of 17, is a finalist for the Manning Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the Heisman trophy.
His name is Robert Griffin III and he is the quarterback at Baylor University.
Monday it was formally announced that Griffin had been invited to New York City for the Heisman ceremony, along with Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
According to ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, the name on the front of his jersey will keep him from the Heisman.
“He’s from Baylor,” Herbstreit said. “He’s not going to win the Heisman.”
Griffin disagrees, crediting the name on the front of his jersey more than the one on the back.
“It’s not just about me, it’s about all of Baylor Nation,” Griffin said. “I don’t know if you can say we deserve it, but it would definitely be warranted.”
Originally, Griffin was planning on attending the University of Houston, but when he found out head coach Art Briles was leaving there to take the head coaching job at Baylor, he followed along.
“I knew he could run because I had some friends, high school track coaches, who were watching him run,” Briles said. “That was the first thing that caught our eye. Then when he came to camp, I remember after we had gone through some drills throwing, telling the coaches hey we got to hide this guy. This guy is special. I was really excited when I saw him throw the football. You can teach somebody to throw and you can teach proper pocket etiquette and form, but I haven’t ever seen a slow guy get fast.”
On the season, Griffin has accumulated 3,998 yards passing and 644 rushing, responsible for 45 touchdowns. He leads the nation with a 72.4 completion rate.
“I think we have the best quarterback in the nation,” junior tight end Jerod Monk said. “He’s phenomenal when throwing the ball around. He gets it to a lot of guys and there are opportunities to score. Just looking at the defense, he knows where to throw the ball, and he executes the offense really well. You don’t see hardly anybody in the country throw the deep ball like him. It’s amazing.”
The Baylor team, led by Griffin, stepped up this 2011 season. It all started with the upset over then No. 14 TCU 50-48. Another boost for Griffin’s résumé is his role in Baylor’s undefeated November, highlighted by Baylor stunning then No. 5 OU with a 45-38 victory, sealing by a last second 34-yard touchdown pass.
“He has the ability to make plays that no other quarterback can make,” senior inside receiver Kendall Wright said.
With both Luck and Richardson done with conference play, Griffin had one extra weekend to state his case for the Heisman on then national stage in Waco against a renowned program, the University of Texas.
“We don’t plan on letting anyone win the Heisman against us,” Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson said early in the week.
Griffin and the Bears had the opposite view on the game as Griffin hit Wright for a 59-yard touchdown pass the second play of the game.
“I think he is [worthy of the Heisman],” Robinson said after the game. “Tonight he showed that and played great against a great defense. He did his job. He scored 48 points on us, so I think he is.”
Looking back, Briles acknowledges Griffin’s Heisman moments, but said it is his efforts over the whole season that earned him a shot at the award.
“I think he’s done enough this season to win a Heisman,” Briles said after the Texas game. “I don’t think it comes down to one day. I think it certainly helped him today without a doubt, but when I think you judge somebody, you judge them over the long run, not the short run. His long run has been very impressive this year.”
By definition, the Heisman is awarded to the most outstanding college football player in America.
“He’s the most dynamic player in the NCAA right now,” running back Terrance Ganaway said. “Why wouldn’t he win it?”