The junior running back was named a semi-finalist today for the Maxwell Award, given to the best player in the country. Yes, basically the same criteria as the Heisman, except that no one talks about this award nine months before it's handed out.
Last year's Heisman winner Tim Tebow of Florida is a Maxwell semi-finalist. So is Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. Is there a better name in the history of college football? But what is in a name? Nothing. What matters most are the numbers, not the names, staring the voters in the face. That goes for the school too. Big numbers can overcome big schools. A million yards passing means more than a million fans at Penn State or Alabama.
Donald Brown's numbers are good, really good. He leads the nation in rushing at 156 yards per game. If that number increases so will his Maxwell and Heisman chances. Sure, if you're running for 156 yards a game for a team in the mix for a national title, your odds of carrying a huge piece of hardware home are much greater. But the Heisman is more of a beauty contest than a talent show and nothing looks prettier on paper than some big fat stats.
The Donald's numbers may not be able to "trump" UConn's 6-3 record. But a great player at a good program that's not in the hunt for a National Championship can still win college football's most prestigious award.
In 1988, Barry Sanders took over for Thurman Thomas as the starting running back at Oklahoma State. In his first and only season as a starter, he scored 39 touchdowns and won the Heisman. With apologies to T. Boone Pickens, a Cowboys alum, Oklahoma State is not Oklahoma. But nobody is Barry Sanders. Heisman Trophy please.
What Donald Brown lacks most are signature moments in signature wins for the Huskies. But there is always next year.
Donald Brown's campaign for post-season awards is stronger than Ralph Nader's run for President. And if Donald Brown leads the nation in rushing as a junior, then at the least, he's begun building his campaign for next year's Heisman. After all, presidential candidates campaign for two years. And if all that Donald Brown has to show for a brilliant junior year is Maxwell Award consideration, it's still been good to the last drop, or in his case, the last run.