LaMichael James on Cam Newton For Heisman: 'I'd Vote For Him Twice'
James may have led the nation in rushing (152.9 yards per game), set a school record for total touchdowns in a season (22), led Oregon to an undefeated season and into the national championship game, but he is confident there is a better player in college football.
In his book, Auburn's Cam Newton wins in a landslide.
"I don't care what happens off the field. Whatever that situation was, to me he's still the best player in the country,'' James said Wednesday at the College Football Awards media session. "I would vote for him twice.''
James is one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's best running back. It will be hard to deny him that award, but even he thinks there is no chance of him winning the Heisman Trophy after Newton's superhuman season.
Newton opted not to attend Wednesday's media session, unwilling to talk about all the off-the-field controversy that followed him. Yet many of the players who were at the session Wednesday didn't mind talking about the way Newton's on-field heroics overshadowed anything he did away from the field.
"It's the player I'm watching on the field -- Cam Newton -- and he's making all the plays,'' said wide receiver Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina, a finalist for the Biletnikoff/best receiver award. "I didn't pay attention to that other stuff. He's making big play after big play. He'd get my vote.''
TCU defensive back Tejay Johnson is thrilled to be playing in the Rose Bowl next month, but there still is a part of him that wonders why his undefeated team doesn't have a chance to be in the national title game.
Finishing No. 3 in the polls with a 12-0 record, but having not chance to win the national championship just doesn't seem right.
"There should be a system to give schools the opportunity to at least get a shot at it (a national title). Like a playoff system,'' Johnson said at the media session. "But that's something we had no control over. We did our part. We won all our games. Maybe next year it will happen.''
Out the Door?
A big game for Wisconsin's junior running back John Clay in the Rose Bowl very well could serve as springboard to the NFL next season.
Clay, who rushed for 1,517 yards as a sophomore, got a first-hand glimpse this season at how fragile the future of a running back can be, making him think twice about how long he wants to spend in college football. The NFL is on his mind.
"I'd say it's 50-50 now (about coming back to Wisconsin),'' he said. "This game will help me decide if I'm mentally and physically ready for the jump (to the NFL). I think I'm ready. It'll be me sitting down with my family and coaches and seeing if it's right for me.''
Clay rushed for just 936 yards this season, missing two full games and parts of two others after a knee injury late in the season. The injury was a bit of a wake-up call. At 6-foot-1, 255 pounds, he is physically ready -- as long as his knee is ready.
"I'll be 100 percent for the Rose Bowl. I'm excited for the chance to show my true talents on the big stage,'' said Clay, also a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. "All eyes are on you. It would be a good time to bring out my 'A,' game again, to show the world what I can do.''