I have been a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, but I have never had a more difficult time deciding how to cast my ballot.
That is not to say there have not been hard decisions to make in the past, because there have been.
I cast my first Heisman ballot for Charles Woodson over Peyton Manning.
But this year was different because of factors that had nothing to do with what took place on the field.
The COVID-19 pandemic not only delayed the season, but played a role in what occurred during the year.
As a rule, I usually wait until after the conference championship games to cast my ballot.
I like to see how a player performs in a critical game. That obviously doesn’t apply to the CFP playoff games because they are after the voting deadline.
The five finalists for the award were all worthy. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris and receiver DeVonta Smith, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask.
Jones, Harris and Smith played a role in getting Alabama to the Monday’s national championship game against Ohio State.
Harris wasn’t included in the top four, but either Smith or Jones would be a deserving winner.
Jones runs the offense with precision and it would be difficult to find many college receivers with the ability to impact a game as Smith does.
Lawrence missed two games because of COVID-19, but still led Clemson into the semifinal game.
I don’t think the Tigers’ loss to Ohio State should be pinned on Lawrence. He passed for 400 yards and two touchdowns despite his offensive line getting shredded and COVID-19 preventing his offensive coordinator from calling plays.
Trask kept Florida within striking distance in its loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
But Trask did not perform well without his top receivers in the Gators’ Cotton Bowl loss to Oklahoma.
A fair question would be if I would have voted differently after the semifinal playoff games, and the answer would be quite possibly.
But that wasn’t an option.
My first-place vote went to Lawrence, my second-place vote went to Jones, and my third-place vote went to Trask.
Lawrence completed over 69 percent of his passes for 3,153 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions. He also rushed for eight touchdowns.
If Lawrence receives the Heisman Trophy, he would be the first winner to do so while missing a game since Florida State’s Charlie Ward won the award in 1993.
I won’t be upset regardless of who wins the award, but I won’t regret my vote for Lawrence.