Monday evening, the Heisman Trophy finalists were announced.
Florida State’s Dalvin Cook was not among them. Instead, the voters chose Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, Michigan DB Jabrill Peppers, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, and OU WR DeDe Westbrook.
Nobody is saying that Cook should win the Heisman, not with the year Jackson is having, but it is surprising he did not get to New York.
Cook is No. 2 in the country in yards from scrimmage against FBS teams with winning records, and No. 1 by far among players who’ve played at least six such games, he’s been big in big games. He’s No. 7 overall in rushing yards in all games and is No. 3 among running backs in 10-yard gains on the year. And he is 14th nationally in scoring.
If polls hold, the presumed top two vote getters are Jackson and Watson. We know from previous years that voting is often regional in these awards, so it is unlikely that the No. 3 player in a loaded conference, as Cook is, would get enough votes. Three finalists from a conference that is considered, by most, to be the No. 3 league nationally isn’t happening.
Running backs need rushing yards
While Cook has an incredible 170 yards/scrimmage per game, he has just 1691 yards rushing on the season. While Christian McCaffrey got a lot of love for his all-purpose yards in 2015 voting, there’s a strong chance that was justification for voters looking to pick a white running back — something that has not happened since 1973. Cook’s rushing numbers do not measure up to the running backs who have won in previous years.
There is a strong block of Heisman Voters who, absent absurd numbers, will not vote for a player who is not on a title contender. Robert Griffin III, and Tim Tebow are the only two players to win it this millennium on a team with three or more losses, and both had absurd, record-setting numbers. And no running back has done so, absent breaking some all-time national record (Ricky Williams, Ron Dayne) in decades.
Cook’s rushing totals against Ole Miss, Charleston Southern, and Louisville: 91, 83 and 54. And in the game where Cook had just 54, Florida State lost by 43 points, and was effectively bounced from the playoff race, and the national conscious.
Despite being vindicated after a jury needed just 25 minutes of deliberation to find him not guilty of a 2014 battery charge, some may be more likely to associate Cook with the accusation, as opposed to the adjudication.
Cook will get his when his name is called before most, if not all of the finalists in April’s NFL draft.