Heisman Highlights: The Three Runners-Upby Alex Kielar December 12, 2021 0 comments
Before Bryce Young was announced as the 87th ever Heisman winner on Saturday night, all four finalists met with the media. From the Marquis Ballroom, at the Marriot Marquis New York Hotel on Broadway, Kenny Pickett, C.J. Stroud, Aidan Hutchinson, and Young took questions from in-person media and over zoom. It was a very cool sight to see the four of them in the same room together before they convened at the Jazz Theater at 60th Street and Broadway for the announcement of the winner. After last year’s event was a fully virtual affair, it was terrific to be in attendance for the spectacle. It wasn’t fully back to normal, with media members required to be masked with the finalists in the room. But it was still a return to some sense of normalcy.
Check out the full breakdown of the winner here.
Hutchinson had an incredible season with Michigan while leading the Wolverines to their first College Football Playoff appearance. All throughout the season, the senior pass rusher came up in big moments. All while giving offensive lineman and quarterbacks alike a lot to deal with. He wasn’t able to become the first Michigan player and first defensive player to win the Heisman since Charles Woodson. But he had the same sort of reign of Woodson while at Michigan.
“Michigan, we’ve been having a legendary season, something nobody really thought we could do this season,” Hutchinson said. “We’re the first unranked team in the playoffs. We won the Big Ten Championship really against all the odds. [Then] individually, being in the same discussion as Charles Woodson, that’s someone who I grew up knowing he was the only defensive player to win the Heisman, and now I’m sitting here my senior year being a Heisman finalist. It means so much, and Michigan has kind of a little trend going for defensive players being Heisman finalists, and he’s the only one to win it.”
Blocking Out the Noise
Hutchinson really didn’t come close to winning the Heisman with Young running away with it. But he still has a lot to hang his hat on. The hype is real around him going into the 2022 NFL Draft. Many experts have been projecting him as the first overall pick. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh backed that sentiment, saying “I think he is going to be the number one pick in the draft.” The key for any athlete is to try not to fall into the trap of listening to the outside noise, no matter good or bad.
“There’s always been outside noise, this whole season,” Hutchinson said. “I’ve been doing a really good job of blocking it out. I gotta stay off social media, very toxic and it can really get to your sub-conscience. I’ve done a good job of just staying off and really just locking in. Once we get to game week, I’m gonna be fully locked in and ready to go.”
— Alex Kielar (@AlexKielar) December 11, 2021
Pickett Feels Grateful
Tony Dorsett was the only Pitt player to ever win the Heisman, winning it in 1976. Kenny Pickett is the first finalist from Pitt since Larry Fitzgerald in 2003. The senior is a proud representative of the illustrious school. The senior quarterback was extremely humble about being mentioned in the same breath as some of the Pitt legends. Pickett broke the great Dan Marino‘s school record of touchdown passes in a season with 42.
“Yeah, he has,” Pickett said on Dorsett reaching out to him. “It’s incredibly special to have the next opportunity for Pitt to bring home the Heisman, with Larry Fitzgerald, Dan Marino, and Tony Dorsett, all the guys that were around that were awarded, and Dorsett winning it. I’m extremely grateful to have my name alongside those guys.”
Dan Marino is not only one of the greatest University of Pittsburgh players of all time. But he is also one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time. Pickett looks up to the former Miami Dolphin quarterback and realizes what a great feeling it is to be included in the same company as the Hall of Famer.
“It’s pretty surreal to have your name alongside Dan Marino knowing what he’s done to the game and the kind of legend he is,” Pickett continued. “I had a chance to spend a weekend with him before the ACC Championship game on Friday night, and just kind of get to know him better as a person, and he’s an incredible person, obviously a great player.”
Stroud may have finished fourth in the Heisman voting, but he wins first place for fashion this weekend. The Ohio State quarterback showed up with a custom-made Buckeyes-inspired suit. On the inside of the suit, Stroud had the famous Ohio State “O’s” with the names of all seven of the Heisman winners the school has had.
— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) December 12, 2021
For Stroud, the outcome of the Big Ten Championship obviously didn’t go the way he wanted. But he handed Hutchinson the praise for the great player he is. In that game, Hutchinson knocked him around while sacking him three times, which was a big key to the Wolverines winning the game.
“He’s a great player,” Stroud said of Hutchinson. “I give credit where it’s due, total respect. Of course, I wish the game went differently. But he had a big part in why they won so I give them their respect. But I feel like we still have the best offense in the country, just maybe we didn’t do everything we should have done. At the end of the day, I know what type of team I have and I’ll take my team against anybody.”
— Alex Kielar (@AlexKielar) December 11, 2021
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Main Image Credit: ©The Heisman Trophy Trust