By LARRY VAUGHT
A Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t have to be a quarterback, but it sure seems to help.
Fifteen of the last 18 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks. The other winners — running backs Reggie Bush of USC in 2005, Mark Ingram of Alabama in 2009 and Derrick Henry of Alabama in 2015.
Could Kentucky’s Benny Snell be the next running back to win the Heisman?
Well, probably not unless UK can go at least 11-1 and make the SEC championship game. Yet nearing the midway point of the season he certainly has Heisman-like numbers.
Henry ran for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2015 in 15 games. Snell is on the same type pace — but likely will not get to play 15 games like Henry did.
Snell was “limited” to 99 yards and one score in last week’s win over South Carolina but he still went over the 3,000-yard career mark — only the third UK running back ever to do so. He also now has 40 touchdowns in 29 games. By comparison, Herschel Walker had 40 touchdowns in his first 28 games at Georgia.
Snell has 639 yards rushing and eight touchdown this year. That’s 69 more rushing yards than Henry had in five games in 2015 and one fewer touchdown. Only four other SEC running backs have ever had the type of numbers Snell has after four games. They are Cadillac Williams of Auburn, Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina, Leonard Fournette of LSU and Todd Gurley of Georgia.
SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum said this week that Snell has gained 166 more yards after contact through five games than what Henry had in 2015 and also has four more runs of 10 yards or more than Henry did. Snell has forced 25 misses tackles this year, tops in the SEC.
Still, the consensus leader for the Heisman today is Alabama quarterback Too Tagovailoa with quarterbacks Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, Will Grier of West Virginia and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State all rated above Snell today.
However, a Kentucky win at Texas A&M Saturday night certainly will keep Snell in the Heisman conversation, especially if he has a big game that UK likely will need to win.