Column - Can Geno be contender for Heisman in ‘12?
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 00:06
I remember seeing senior quarterback Geno Smith in action for the first time. It was during my freshman year, and I could already tell he had the chance to be something special.
Smith, a Miami native, first showed his leadership ability to the Mountaineers in the comeback win at Marshall in the 2010 season. In just his second career start, he was able to lead a miraculous 21-6 comeback against the in-state rival. From that moment on, I knew WVU was in for a special future.
Smith is the best quarterback West Virginia has seen since Pat White. They’re different quarterbacks, but both have been able to lead the Mountaineers to a BCS win and bring West Virginia back to the national spotlight.
After the memorable Orange Bowl victory, my anticipation for this upcoming season already began to build up. Smith broke Tom Brady’s Orange Bowl record of 396 yards and also became the Big East Conference single-season passing leader with 4,385 yards.
Now, with the college football season drawing closer, I am going out on a limb and predicting Smith will be in the top five in the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York. Even with the competition getting much tougher in the Big 12 Conference, Mountaineer fans will see a determined and confident leader in Smith.
After all, he has seemed to learn head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense fairly quickly. With wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey returning, Smith feels comfortable in tough situations. He has developed chemistry with his teammates, and that chemistry can take the Mountaineers back to a BCS game.
The most important thing for Smith and the Mountaineer nation to remember is this team knows how to win. WVU has won at least nine games in the last three seasons, and chances are it will be ranked near the top 10 in the preseason rankings.
The better competition Smith will see, the more he will continue to develop. The Mountaineers see some tough games against Texas on the road and home games against Kansas State and Oklahoma. Think back to the numbers Smith had against LSU when it came to Morgantown; he lives for the big-time moments.
With the guidance of Holgorsen and his Big 12 Conference experience, Smith will be able to implement the offense with even greater results.
Obviously, there are a lot of high-quality quarterbacks who are in the hunt for the Heisman this season, but
statistically, not many compare to the leader of the Mountaineers.
Smith had a completion rate of 65.8 percent, a passer rating of 105.7, 31 touchdowns and a mere seven interceptions. If his numbers continue like this in an even more powerful conference, the first WVU Heisman winner could be crowned.
What’s even scarier is that quarterbacks who have been with Holgorsen have leaped in numbers from year one to year two. Houston’s Case Keenum went from 5,241 total yards in his first year to 5,829 yards in his second year with the offensive mastermind.
Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell also improved dramatically with Holgorsen from one season to another. In his first year as a sophomore, Harrell had 4,555 passing yards and 38 touchdowns.
The next season saw Harrell improve to 5,705 yards and 48 touchdowns.
I can’t wait to see what Smith and company have in store for this season. It will be a memorable season, coming fresh off of a BCS win and with the new competition.
Get ready for touchdowns, the new defensive schemes and a new era of Mountaineer football.
And who knows, the Mountaineers might even have a possible Heisman winner in Geno Smith.