(NEW YORK) — Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel could make history on Saturday night by becoming the first freshman to win college football’s biggest award, the Heisman Trophy.
The race is down to three men, with experts saying each has a good chance at winning.
Manziel, at 20-years-old, is the youngest. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, 23, was the Heisman favorite early in the season, but now is seen as locked in a three-man race with Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Malietau Louis Te’o.
Klein, a senior quarterback, had been a steady player all year long until the team’s unexpected loss to Baylor, opening the door for Manziel and 21-year-old Te’o to become viable contenders for the award.
Klein, who has completed 180 of 272 passes for 2,490 yards, has led the Kansas State Wildcats to an 11-1 record this season.
Manziel has had an astounding year, especially for a freshman, completing 273 of 400 passes for 3,419 yards and leading the Texas A&M Aggies to a 10-2 record.
But the defining moment for Manziel may have been when he led the Aggies to a three-touchdown lead in the first quarter against defending national champion Alabama, and Texas A&M held on to beat the Crimson Tide, 29-24.
“It’s just surreal, that’s the best way I can describe it,” Manziel, also known as Johnny Football in Texas, said of even being mentioned as a Heisman possibility.
Te’o has also proved himself to be a remarkable player. The senior line backer has recently had to face the death of both his grandmother and girlfriend, yet he has remained focused, recording 103 total tackles and seven interceptions. Te’o’s performance this season helped to lead Notre Dame to an undefeated season.
“It could go either way,” two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin said.
This is the 78th Heisman to be awarded since its inception in 1935. The trophy is named in memory of John Heisman, who is believed to have significantly contributed to the sport of football by inventing the forward pass, legalized in 1906.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
CNN Newswire staff
Ryan Browne and Evan Perez, CNN