Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, selected Monday as one of three finalists for the 2012 Heisman Trophy, projects to win the award based on a Houston Chronicle survey. But the final vote could be close.
Manziel joined Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein on the list of finalists who will be in New York for Saturday’s live announcement. But the race, based on the newspaper survey, apparently boils down to Manziel vs. Te’o.
Newspaper officials received responses from 69 Heisman voters in 21 different states, with Manziel receiving 38 first-place votes. Te’o received 30 first-place votes, with the other top vote going to Southern California receiver Marquise Lee.
The survey requested only the voter’s first-place choice on his or her returned ballot. The official Heisman ballot requires three names, with players receiving points for being selected first, second or third on each ballot.
Manziel, a redshirt freshman selected Monday as the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year, could become the first freshman to win the Heisman in the award’s 77-year history. A&M’s only previous Heisman winner is John David Crow, the 1957 recipient.
“I’m overwhelmed by this tremendous honor,” Manziel said in a statement released by school officials. “This is a dream come true for me, and I know it’s a credit to all my coaches and teammates. I definitely wouldn’t be a Heisman finalist without my teammates and coaches.”
In breaking down the responses from Heisman voters in the Chronicle survey, Manziel dominated the Southwest region, collecting 19 of 22 first-place votes from respondents. Te’o received seven of eight first-place votes from respondents in the Northeast, while other precincts were more evenly split. The newspaper’s survey received responses from 7 percent of the 928 Heisman voters.
_ Jimmy Burch