HEIS­MAN TRO­PHY: STOCK SOARED FOR 1ST-TIME START­ING QUAR­TER­BACKS,

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Sports - BY RALPH D. RUSSO

Tua Tago­v­ailoa rolled across the floor of the New York Stock Ex­change on a black scooter with a lit­tle Alabama sticker on the front, his sprained left an­kle in a gray plas­tic boot, safely propped up as he pushed off with his right foot.

The Crim­son Tide quar­ter­back and fel­low Heis­man Tro­phy fi­nal­ists Kyler Mur­ray of Ok­la­homa and Dwayne Hask­ins of Ohio State were on Wall Street on Fri­day to ring the clos­ing bell on a day the Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age closed down 558 points.

Stock for the three firstyear starters has been soar­ing this sea­son. A year ago, they were se­cond on their team’s depth chart. On Satur­day, one of them will win the Heis­man Tro­phy.

Tago­v­ailoa picked up where he left off in the se­cond half of last sea­son’s na­tional cham­pi­onship game vic­tory against Geor­gia to lead the topranked Crim­son Tide back to the play­off as a sopho­more.

Hask­ins, a third-year sopho­more, stepped in af­ter the de­par­ture of a four-year starter and smashed Ohio State and Big Ten pass­ing records.

Mur­ray, a fourth-year ju­nior, re­placed last sea­son’s Heis­man win­ner and had an even bet­ter sea­son than his pre­de­ces­sor. Mur­ray waited the long­est to fi­nally take over a team, trans­fer­ring from Texas A&M af­ter a rocky fresh­man sea­son, tak­ing a red­shirt year to sat­isfy NCAA trans­fer rules and then back­ing up Baker May­field in 2017.

“I think sit­ting down and watch­ing is kind of im­por­tant,” Mur­ray said. “I know Dwayne got to sit and watch. Tua ob­vi­ously got to sit and watch. I think it just helps you with your growth and ma­tur­ing on and off the field. I think that’s a big part.”

For the 16th time in the last 19 years, a quar­ter­back will win col­lege foot­ball’s most cov­eted in­di­vid­ual award, and that should not be a sur­prise this sea­son. This has been the year of the quar­ter­back, with FBS records for com­ple­tion per­cent­age, yards per pass and yards pass­ing per game all within range as bowl sea­son ar­rives. For the first time since 2008, when Ok­la­homa’s Sam Brad­ford, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Florida’s Tim Te­bow were the Heis­man fi­nal­ists, only quar­ter­backs were in­vited to New York for the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion.

That sea­son, the Heis­man fi­nal­ists com­bined to pass for 9,726 yards and 100 touch­downs, com­plet­ing 70.9 per­cent of their passes at 9.1 yards per at­tempt. This sea­son’s fi­nal­ists, each still with at least one more game, have passed for 11,986 yards and 124 touch­downs, com­plet­ing 69.7 per­cent of their passes at 10.6 yards per at­tempt.

There is also a good chance that for just the se­cond time in the 83-year his­tory of the Heis­man, the top-five vote-get­ters will be quar­ter­backs, too. West Vir­ginia’s Will Grier and Wash­ing­ton State’s Gard­ner Min­shew II were the other con­tenders, but nei­ther drew enough sup­port to earn a trip to New York. In 2001, when Ne­braska’s Eric Crouch won the Heis­man, the top six in the vot­ing were quar­ter­backs.

Dur­ing a 30-minute in­ter­view ses­sion at the Stock Ex­change, Tago­v­ailoa was asked a lot about his health. He sprained his an­kle in the SEC cham­pi­onship game last week and said he ex­pects to be fine for the play­off, when No. 1 Alabama faces No. 4 Ok­la­homa and Mur­ray in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29.

Mur­ray fielded nu­mer­ous ques­tions about his fu­ture in base­ball. He was a first-round draft pick by the Oak­land Ath­let­ics in June and has al­ready signed a $4.66 mil­lion con­tract. This will be his only sea­son as a col­lege start­ing quar­ter­back.

The ques­tion Hask­ins will face is whether to re­turn in 2019 or en­ter the NFL draft. He could be a first-round pick.

Ok­la­homa Kyler Mur­ray

Ohio State Dwayne Hask­ins

Alabama Tua Tago­v­ailoa

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