NEW YORK (AP) — Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, trying to become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the runner-up for last year’s award, were among the four finalists selected Wednesday.
Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan were the other finalists. They will all be in New York on Saturday night when the award is given to the top player in college football.
“I think it’s a good race,” Brennan said at a news conference. “I think anybody can win it. It’s up to the voters. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”
The Heisman race took a while to develop this season and seemed wide open until the last month when Tebow, McFadden and Daniel emerged as front-runners.
Since the first Heisman was given to Chicago’s Jay Berwanger in 1935, all 70 players who have won college football’s most prestigious award have been juniors or seniors.
Tebow could break that trend. The ultimate dual-threat quarterback, the 235-pound Tebow ran for 838 yards and an Southeastern Conference-record 22 touchdowns.
He’s also the nation’s second-leading passer, having completed 68 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards, with 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his first season as a starter.
Tebow’s already had a historic season, becoming the first major college player to run for 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season.
“He has done things that no one else in college football has been able to do and I hope people realize the magnitude of his accomplishments,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said.
McFadden was one of the preseason favorites after finishing second to Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith last year. His candidacy lagged with a mediocre October, but he gave himself a boost with a spectacular November. In the final month of the season, McFadden tied the SEC record with 321 yards rushing against South Carolina, and ran for 206 yards and three TDs and also threw a touchdown pass to lead the Razorbacks to a 50-48 triple overtime victory over then-No. 1 LSU.
McFadden could become the fifth player to win the Heisman the year after being the runner-up, joining Tom Harmon of Michigan, Glenn Davis of Army, O.J. Simpson of USC and Herschel Walker of Georgia.
Daniel threw for 4,170 yards and 33 TDs to get the surprising Tigers within a victory of reaching the BCS national championship game.