Is Rashaad Penny The Next Great Aztec To Be Snubbed By The Heisman Committee?
Will Penny be a finalist for the Heisman?
There are three Mountain West games this week, who is our staff taking?
NFL Hall-of-Famer Marshall Faulk was one. All-time NCAA rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey another. Will the current 2017 NCAA rushing leader Rashaad Penny be the next great San Diego State football player to be snubbed by the Heisman Award committee?
Rashaad was already stunningly passed over as a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top running back. Penny IS the nation’s most productive running back in NCAA football. Not third; not second: he is currently number one. He leads in rushing yardage AND all purpose yardage- and last week he tied the NCAA all-time record with seven career kickoff returns for touchdown. He has been tested by ranked Power Five programs and he has delivered. The lack of consideration for his performance is a major snub, indicative that it may be time to ask a legitimate question.
Are elite Group of Five players automatically disqualified from consideration for the Doak Walker Award and the Heisman Award?
Not all Group of Five teams are created equally. There are a half dozen teams that consistently fall within the AP Top 25 and who can, on any given Sunday, defeat ranked Power Five teams. Has the NCAA become so politicized that the idea of elite Group of Five players garnering consideration for such accolades could be perceived as a threat to the Power Five establishment?
While there’s an argument to be waged about the strength of conference for Group of Five programs, it is notable that the San Diego State Aztecs started 6-0 while defeating several formidable Power Five teams this year, thanks in part to the superb play action of Penny. While competing against #20 Stanford this year, Penny outproduced Doak Walker finalist and Heisman darling Bryce Love in all-purpose yardage. The week prior, the Aztecs handily beat Arizona State where Penny posted 254 yards. In conference, #25 Boise State was just one of just two teams to defeat the Aztecs this season.
Nonetheless, the Aztecs have played solid football during 2017, and Rashaad Penny has without question been the “tip of the spear.” During this past weekend’s game against Nevada, Penny posted 429 all-purpose yards in a single game including 222 rushing yards and FOUR touchdowns including a 100-yard kickoff return and a score during his first ever punt return. In doing so, he surpassed the great Marshall Faulk’s single game all-purpose yardage record that stood for nearly twenty five years.
To watch Rashaad Penny play, it becomes apparent that his production is hard earned, and the result of stunning speed, agility, vision, patience and sheer power. It is also apparent that this young man is playing football as well as the game can possibly be played- a reality that has been found most striking to the college sports community.
It’s a well-known truth that many east coast sportscasters aren’t watching west coast football. Games often start at 10:30pm – or later. That does not excuse the fact that the very best running back in college football right now is nearly unrecognized and fully unappreciated. A litmus test for sleepy sportscasters is questioning the legitimacy of his performance- because it means they have not seen him play. Furthermore, unlike his record-breaking, physics-defying predecessor Donnel Pumphrey: Penny has the physical build and the strength that NFL programs desire. In addition to dragging tackles for a dozen plus yards on occasion, he has been seen withstanding the best tackling efforts of as many as six defenders at a time without going down.
Here is how Penny currently stacks up to the nation’s other rushing leaders:
All Purpose Yardage
1) Rashaad Penny, San Diego State- 223.8 YPG
2) Saquon Barkley, Penn State- 188.2 YPG
3) Bryce Love, Stanford- 175.6 YPG
Current Rushing Yards Leader
1. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State- 1824 total yards
2. Bryce Love, Stanford- 1723 total yards
3. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin- 1657 total yards
1 Devin Singletary, Running Back, Florida Atlantic- 150 pts
2 Rashaad Penny, Running Back, San Diego State- 132 pts
3 Nathan Rourke, Quarterback, Ohio State- 120 pts
In light of his abilities Rashaad Penny is an incredibly humble athlete. As a virtual lock to exceed 2000 rushing yards with one final conference game and a bowl game, and Penny will likely end this season atop the rushing yardage and all-purpose yardage list, as well as at least two other categories.
It is not too late to place Rashaad Penny where he belongs: among the Heisman finalists.
While politics play a big part in the determination of award winners, Penny at the very least deserves to be present, and honored as a finalist on his remarkable merit alone. This merit is complemented by the character and integrity that a winner ought to have.
It’s safe to say that fellow Aztecs Marshall Faulk and Donnel Pumphrey would agree.