Earlier in the week it was announced that the five Heisman finalists consisted of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook, and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. While all of these players have cases to be making the trip to New York (though I think Alabama’s Jonathan Allen had a stronger case than Peppers if they wanted to send a defensive player), I can’t see how the nation’s leading rusher was left off the invite list. Also, I can’t recall how many times the nation’s leading rusher wasn’t at least invited to the ceremony to be put in the conversation.
Texas running back D’Onta Foreman led the entire country in rushing with 2,028 yards, and was able to accomplishment this in just 11 games despite sitting out a non-conference game, in which he probably could have topped 200 more yards on the ground. I’m going to go ahead and clear this hurdle right now: I am fully aware Texas went 5-7 this year. The Heisman is an individual award and not a team performance award, so save me all of those arguments. The only way I envisioned Foreman not receiving an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony was if it was decided to go with a grouping of three rather than five. The fact that two players from the Big 12 were picked to go to New York and neither one was named D’Onta Foreman is also pretty absurd to me.
I’m not saying Baker Mayfield or Dede Westbrook didn’t have great seasons, but how often do you see the country’s leading rusher (in a Power 5 conference I might add) not invited to New York when there is a field of five for the Heisman? On top of that the case can be made that Mayfield didn’t have the strongest year for a quarterback in his own conference, as Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech threw for more yards (led the country with 5,052) and touchdowns (3rd in the country with 41), but I digress. This is about Foreman’s case and not Patrick Mahomes’ case, which is another argument entirely, but falls in a similar boat.
Foreman rushed for over 100 yards in every game he participated in this year (11) and broke Earl Campbell’s school record for consecutive games with over 100 yards (13 games dating back to 2015). Foreman rushed for over 200 yards on three separate occasions and he also had a 300 rushing yard performance against Texas Tech. In comparison, Dalvin Cook (another Doak Walker finalist) had four different games in which he didn’t break 100 yards rushing and Donnel Pumphrey (the other Doak Walker finalist) had three games where he didn’t break 100 yards. In Pumphrey’s case, he went up against one Power 5 opponent (Cal) and it took him 13 games to break the 2,000 yard mark.
Foreman’s 2016 season will go down as the 2nd most prolific rushing season in the history of the Texas program and only comes in behind Ricky Williams’ 1998 season when he rushed for 2,124 yards and won the Heisman. Like Williams, he deserved to be invited to New York.
I’m not arguing that Foreman should have won the Heisman, I think Lamar Jackson was hands down the best player in college football this year despite people trying to poke holes in his case by looking at the wins and losses, but I think Foreman still was worthy of a place at the table. Everyone entered the year talking about Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey, but it was D’Onta Foreman who outperformed them all and led the country in rushing. He deserved to be invited to New York.
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