Big 12

Chances of Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon Winning Heisman in 2011

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Don’t tell me a wide receiver hasn’t won the Heisman Trophy since Desmond Howard took home the prize in 1991. And don’t tell me that a receiver relies on other players to get them the ball and therefore shouldn’t be considered for the Heisman. Justin Blackmon‘s exclusion from the Heisman ceremony in New York last year was a snub.

Taking nothing away from last year’s runners-up—LaMichael James, Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore—or from the eventual winner, Cam Newton, Blackmon deserved to sit in the front row in New York as much as any of them. He was simply phenomenal last year, hauling in at least five receptions, over 100 yards and at least a touchdown in every single game in which he played last year. He finished with 111 receptions for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns.

That’s why I stumped for him on a weekly basis in my weekly College Football Saturday in 500 Words or Less column that runs Monday mornings throughout the season. From the October 18 edition on, Blackmon was in my top five of Heisman contenders, where he belonged. By the end of the year, he was in the four spot in my rankings behind Newton, Moore and James and ahead of Luck. When the Heisman finalists were announced and Blackmon wasn’t on the list, I was blown away. There were five finalists invited in 2009; it was a shame Blackmon wasn’t at the party last year. 

That’s the past, though. What chance does Blackmon have of breaking that barrier that has kept a receiver from winning the Heisman since Howard did it twenty years ago?

The biggest blow to the Oklahoma State offense was the departure of offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. The Cowboys will run the same offense this year—one quarterback Brandon Weeden helped teach to new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken was the receivers coach in Stillwater from 2002-04 under Les Miles. There’s a lot of talent returning on the offense, but how Monken handles the new play calling duties is something to keep an eye on.

There will be five starters returning to the offensive line and others like JUCO transfer Michael Bowie will add depth to the unit. Most importantly, Weeden returns to throw Blackmon the ball. Weeden was the first passer to eclipse 4,000 yards in a season for the Cowboys and led the nation’s third-ranked passing offense as OSU ran out to a 10-1 start before falling to Oklahoma in the Bedlam Game, dashing their Big 12 title hopes.

It isn’t merely stats that make Blackmon a legitimate Heisman contender. He’s one of the most dominant, reliable targets in all of college football; if you throw it his way, it’s a safe bet that he’ll come down with it. Maybe a 1,500-yard, 20-touchdown receiver doesn’t deserve the award as much as a 4,000-yard, 40-touchdown passer, or a 1,500-yard, 20-touchdown running back, or a player like Newton who threw 30 touchdown passes and ran for 20 more. But if Blackmon puts forth a similar effort to the one he put forth this past season, he’ll be as deserving of a trip to New York as any player in the country.