For the second year in a row, Stanford redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Luck was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy on Monday.
Luck was named one of five finalists along with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.
“I’m obviously very honored, very excited,” Luck said. “It’s a great trip to New York. I remember last year what an experience that was, so to be able to go and relive that again, I’m very excited. I’m excited to meet the other guys and hang out with them, and I’m excited to represent this university.”
After finishing as the runner-up to Auburn’s Cam Newton for the 2010 Heisman, Luck was widely proclaimed to be the frontrunner for the award before the season began and has put together another outstanding, if expected, season.
Luck has completed 70 percent of his passes for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns and is first in the Pac-12 and fifth nationally in passing efficiency. He has guided the Cardinal offense to the tune of 43.6 points per game and 480.9 yards a game of total offense, as well as an 11-1 record and a berth in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Head coach David Shaw said he almost couldn’t count the number of moments that led to Luck being named a finalist once again.
“It’s hard to pick a few moments, because in every single game, he proved that he’s one of the best players in the nation,” he said.
And even with Luck’s consistent excellence shining through, Shaw did point to one performance in particular that stood out in his mind.
“The USC performance, it’s one of those deals where if you’re looking for a Heisman moment,” he said. “The funny thing is, if that game happens four weeks later, he’s maybe even running away with it. There’s a lot of emphasis on late-season games, but that performance was phenomenal.”
Should Luck win the award, he will join 1970 Heisman winner Jim Plunkett as the second Cardinal player to take home the award for the nation’s most outstanding player.
However, despite Luck’s phenomenal season, he will have to beat out one of the most talented Heisman fields in recent memory.
Griffin III, who took Baylor to a 9-3 record and the Alamo Bowl, the first nine-win season for the Bears since 1986, led the nation in passing efficiency and passing rating, threw for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns and ran for 644 yards and nine touchdowns.
Mathieu was an integral part of LSU’s second-ranked defense and top-tier special teams during its undefeated run to the BCS national championship game, recording 71 tackles, forcing five fumbles, intercepting two passes and scoring four touchdowns along the way.
Richardson was the battering ram for the Alabama offense, rushing for 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns to help lead the Tide to the national championship game for the second time in three years.
Ball has also notched a historically significant season, rushing for 1,759 yards and scoring an astounding 38 total touchdowns, just one shy of Barry Sanders’ NCAA record, as the junior helped carry the Badgers to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year.
Luck said he hadn’t seen much of his competitors before this past week but was struck by the quality of the other four players in the Heisman hunt.
“They’re obviously all special players,” he said. “I’m very impressed with all their athletic abilities and with how they carry themselves off the field, so I’m very excited to meet them in person”
But despite the stiff competition, Luck said his hopes for Saturday’s ceremony were quite obvious.
“Would I want to win the Heisman trophy? Absolutely. I would definitely love to win it.”
The award will be presented on Saturday, Dec. 10 in New York City. ESPN will provide coverage of the trophy presentation beginning at 5 p.m. PST.