NEW YORK (Dec. 6) – The five finalists are Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne, Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, Purdue quarterback Drew Brees, Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington and Virginia Tech freshman quarterback Michael Vick.
The finalists were invited based on returns from a majority of the 921 Heisman voters.
Dayne, who ran for 1,834 yards and broke Ricky Williams Division I-A career rushing record in leading the Badgers (9-2) to the Rose Bowl, is considered the Heisman favorite.
Most surprising was Vick’s invitation.
No freshman or sophomore has ever won the Heisman, and just 13 juniors have won the award since the first one went to Jay Berwanger in 1935.
Vick certainly earned the invite. He led the second-ranked Hokies (11-0) to a national title showdown against Florida State in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 and was the nation’s top-rated passer. He completed 90 of 152 passes for 1,840 yards and 12 TDs, and also ran for 585 yards and eight TDs.
Pennington, who led the Thundering Herd (12-0) to a perfect regular season, was third nationally in passing, completing 275 of 405 for 3,799 yards and 37 TDs.
“I’m surprised, but I’m honored to be mentioned with those guys,” Pennington said. “Ron Dayne’s had a great season. He’s broken the rushing record. It’s going to be tough to beat him.”
Hamilton, was the second-rated passer with 3,060 yards and 29 TDs in the Yellow Jackets’ 8-3 season.
Brees threw for 3,531 yards and 21 TDs in leading Purdue to a 7-4 record.