|Wednesday, December 11
Updated: December 12, 1:54 PM ET
Teammates are finalists for first time since '94
NEW YORK -- Top-ranked Miami's Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee are Heisman Trophy finalists, the first time since 1994 that teammates were among the top five in the voting.
Iowa quarterback Brad Banks, Penn State running back Larry Johnson and Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer also were invited Wednesday for the award's presentation.
The winner of one of the most wide-open Heisman races will be announced Saturday night at the Yale Club in New York.
The last time two players from the same school finished in the top five was eight years ago, when Penn State's Ki-Jana Carter was second and Kerry Collins fourth.
"I doubt I can get it because I've only been on the scene for like one year, and I didn't do as much as Kenny or the other quarterbacks did,'' McGahee said recently. "I don't know what the Heisman means in their terms, but in my terms it means the best overall player who has been performing the best to help their school win and getting the job done.''
McGahee, a tailback who wasn't even supposed to start this season, would be the first sophomore to win the award given to college football's most outstanding player.
Palmer is trying to become the first West Coast player to win since USC's Marcus Allen in 1981.
Of the five finalists, only Dorsey opened the season as a true Heisman hopeful; he finished third in the 2001 voting and led Miami to a national title.
McGahee ended the 2001 season as Miami's starting fullback, but moved back to tailback because of injuries and broke several single-season records.
He shattered the school record with 27 touchdowns and also set school records for yards rushing (1,686), total yards (2,036), and 100-yard games (10). In last Saturday's 56-45 win over Virginia Tech, McGahee ran 39 times for a career-high 205 yards and broke a 69-year-old school record with six touchdowns.
Dorsey, a senior from Orinda, Calif., is 38-1 as a starter and led the Hurricanes to another unbeaten season at 12-0. Miami will play No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.
Dorsey owns nearly every significant Miami passing record. This season, he completed 194 of 350 passes for 3,073 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Banks, meanwhile, never started a Division I-A game until this season, but it never looked that way.
The senior from Belle Glade, Fla., led the nation in passing efficiency, going 155-of-258 for 2,369 yards, 25 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 387 yards and five TDs on 73 carries, and was The Associated Press College Player of the Year.
He helped No. 3 Iowa notch its first 11-win season, its first unbeaten Big Ten season since 1922, and a berth in the Orange Bowl.
"Good fortune led us to Brad and what he has done for us has been remarkable,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "His first start for a college football game was this August and to go on and achieve what he has is really impressive. We are very proud of him.
Johnson emerged late in the season. He finished with 2,015 yards rushing, only the ninth Division I-A player to top 2,000 in a season. His 341 yards receiving are the most ever by a Penn State running back, and his 2,575 all-purpose yards this year are a Penn State record and ninth best in NCAA history.
The senior from State College, Pa., set the school single-game rushing record with 327 yards against Indiana. No. 10 Penn State (9-2) will play in the Capital One Bowl against Auburn.
"It's a great honor,'' Johnson said. "I'm looking forward to being with the other finalists in New York.''
Palmer completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 3,639 yards and 32 touchdowns with 10 interceptions this year, leading No. 5 USC (10-2) to the Orange Bowl against Iowa.
The senior from Laguna Niguel, Calif., particularly shined during the Trojans' final eight games, throwing for 2,676 yards and 27 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He ended the season with 425 yards passing and four touchdowns in a 44-13 victory over Notre Dame. It was the most yards passing ever allowed by the Fighting Irish.
"It's been an amazing year,'' Palmer said this week. "As far as really thinking you're going to win it, you can't even fathom it. At the beginning of the season, I wanted to be at the Heisman ceremony. It's such a long shot, so many things have to go right.''
One Heisman hopeful who did not make the top five is Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich. Leftwich, who has passed for more than 4,000 yards in two straight seasons, was slow to recover after injuring his leg injury in early November.
"I'm not disappointed at all,'' Leftwich said. "I don't hold any grudges. Nobody promised me I'd be one of those guys in the first place.''
This year's race should again be close. Last year, there was no clear favorite for the Heisman and only four finalists were announced. Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch ended up beating Florida quarterback Rex Grossman by 62 points, the fourth-closest vote in the 67-year history of the Heisman.
The closest Heisman vote was Bo Jackson's 45-point victory over Chuck Long in 1985.