Leadingham gunning for the Heisman

Image: Leadingham gunning for the Heisman::

Image: Leadingham gunning for the Heisman::

James Burns

After posting a season-low stat line against Montana State University, Sacramento State?s freshman gunslinger Ryan Leadingham watched his Heisman stock take a serious blow. During a weekend in college football where it seemed every other Heisman hopeful shined, Leadingham and the Hornets floundered miserably, losing to the Bobcats 20-0.

Leadingham, who entered Saturday?s away game with a quarterback rating of 121.0 with 265 yards passing per game, completed just 13-of-31 for 112 yards. As a team, the Hornets mustered just 128 yards total on offense.

Can one poor performance destroy Leadingham?s chances at winning the Heisman?

Before you dismiss him (like a certain Mitch Zehnder already has), I ask you this: Have three lackluster performances by Northwestern University?s runningback Damien Anderson eliminated him from contention? Did Florida?s Rex Grossman bow out because he threw four interceptions in an upset loss at the hands of Auburn University Saturday?

Certainly Anderson, Grossman and Leadingham all have their work cut out for them now. Each needs to return to Heisman form in their next games if they plan on keeping pace with the likes of UCLA?s DeShaun Foster and the University of Miami?s Ken Dorsey.

Dorsey kept his Hurricanes atop the polls, guiding them to a 49-27 win over their in-state rival the Florida State Seminoles. Behind his 249 passing yards, the Hurricanes handed the Seminoles their second worst home loss during Bowden?s tenure.

Foster, on the other hand, pulled away from the pack Saturday when his No.7 ranked Bruins handled the No. 8 Washington Huskies 35-13. Foster, who rushed for a career-high 301 yards, capped the conference victory with a 92-yard fourth quarter jaunt.

It seemed with every tackle-shredding run, Foster moved closer and closer to the top individual collegiate award.

Despite Foster?s recent performance, all is not lost for Leadingham, who seems to have a clear-cut advantage over the rest of the field down the stretch.

Unlike the rest of the candidates, Leadingham competes in Div. I-AA and has the opportunity to murder shaky secondaries for the remainder of the season. While all the top recruits have gone on to play in the toughest conferences, Leadingham (and Fresno State?s David Carr for that matter) will tease and embarrass all the “so-so” junior college transfers that flock to Div. I-AA ball.

Dorsey and Grossman have nice numbers, but don?t expect them to keep climbing, especially as the season progresses and the title hunt heats up.

Perhaps the greatest factors working in Leadingham?s favor are his promise and potential.

Sure, the running ability of the Cornhuskers? Eric Crouch and Clemsons? Woodrow Dantzler garners applause in the college ranks, but it won?t fly when it comes down to filling NFL roster spots. You think professional football clubs will be willing to take a chance on another “Slash”? The Steelers are still kicking themselves in the?err pads for their mistake.

Leadingham, while he runs a swift 40-yard dash, possesses all the characteristics it takes to succeed on the next level ? size, poise, field vision and arm strength. And, the best part about it is the kid is only a freshman.

For all their glory and accomplishment, Eastern Washington has the dubious task of keeping Leadingham and all of his explosive ability under wraps. You can bet the mistakes he and his teammates committed last week against the Bobcats have been and will be addressed by head football coach John Volek during this weeks practice.

Because you know, as well I do, Volek wants to see his young signal caller become the first ever Hornet football star to be awarded the Heisman trophy.