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Why Jarvion Franklin Should Be In The Heisman Discussion

Jarvion Franklin has been a monster all season for the resurgent Western Michigan Broncos, so why not consider him for college football's highest individual honor?

Jarvion Franklin powers into the end zone for one of his 22 touchdowns this season
Jarvion Franklin powers into the end zone for one of his 22 touchdowns this season
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

No player in MAC history has won both the Freshman of the Year award and the Player of the Year award (both offensive and defensive).  Jarvion Franklin is on pace to become the first man to do that having come out of the gates to start his promising career as a wrecking ball.  His stats?  An eye popping 1,330 yards on 240 carries, while leading the nation with 22 touchdowns.

So with all of his numbers, including leading Western Michigan to an FBS best +5 win jump from 2013 with three games left to play and a possible bowl berth, why has Jarvion Franklin not received any love from Heisman talks?  It's one thing to consider a man as a front-runner, but with those stats, a dark-horse mention should be in order.  So why not Jarvion?

Obviously, Franklin has two things going against him:  (1) He plays in the MAC, considered inferior competition and (2) his team already has three losses.  Now, two of the last seven Heisman winners played on three or more loss teams:  Tim Tebow in 2007 and Robert Griffin III in 2011.  Tebow won with three regular season losses before losing to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl (Lloyd Carr's last game at head coach), but was ESPN's darling.

But does Franklin have better stats than current or former winners?

Only one running back has won the Heisman trophy since the turn of the century (Reggie Bush won in 2005, but has had his win vacated due to improper benefits).  That running back was Mark Ingram in 2009 for Alabama, as a sophomore.  Ingram's final numbers?  1,658 yards on 271 rushes for 17 TDs with another three touchdowns through the air.  He also did that in 14 games, including the National Championship Game over Texas.  He only averaged 118 yards/game, but played on the best team in the best conference in a "down year" for candidates.

Franklin has already eclipsed Ingram's touchdown numbers and will likely surpass the yardage before the regular season is over, even if in an "inferior conference".  But he'll likely blow those figures away, and has an outside chance at a 2,000 yard rushing season, something Ingram never came close to (Ingram would only pass the 1,000 yard mark that lone year so far in his combined NCAA and NFL career).

But what about comparing Franklin to more recent candidates?

Well, let's start with Jordan Lynch, who finished 7th in the Heisman voting in 2012 while guiding his NIU team to the Orange Bowl and a 12-2 record then followed that up with a 3rd place finish after a 12-0 start ended with a MAC Championship loss and then an ugly bowl game loss to Utah State (albeit the latter after Heisman ballots were announced).  At this time last year, Lynch had 1,150 yards rushing for 12 touchdowns after a four TD game against UMass.  He also had 1,871 passing yards for 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Franklin will not have the passing numbers Lynch had, but definitely has the quarterback beat in rushing yards and touchdowns.  In fact, Franklin has more rushing touchdowns than Lynch had passing, something that is incredible in the pass happy age we live in today.  Jarvion also just lost his first fumble of the season, so he has fewer turnovers per "action play" (rushing attempts + passing attempts + receptions).  Reliability has to account for something.

But what about today's candidates: the Jameis Winstons and Todd Gurleys of the FBS?  Well, for starters, Jarvion doesn't have the disciplinary issues that Winston or Gurley has had (despite what you think about Gurley's situation and if it's wrong or right).  Franklin also doesn't have nearly the same amount of talent around him that these players have.  Melvin Gordon. Marcus Mariota, and Ameer Abdullah generally have better talent than their opponents to earn their yards.  Franklin does not.

We knew that Mariota, Winston, and Gurley would be solid again based on the status quo of their programs.  Gordon and Abdullah have talent, with Gordon coming from the same program that produced FBS record holder for most career touchdowns in Montee Ball.  Abdullah is now out for a couple weeks, but should end all hope for his Heisman, so Franklin is really the best player out of the bunch to not have incredible talent around him.  In fact, Western Michigan had the nation's 114th rushing attack last year as a group.  This year, they are 38th.  Who else can lead that kind of jump?

So why not Jarvion?  You want character?  You got it.  You want stats?  You got them.  You want fresh life?  Why not a MAC player?  You want a good story?  First true freshman to win the Heisman oughta do it.

Here's to Jarvion Franklin, the monster running back who nobody outside the MAC knows.  Maybe, in time, the rest of the nation can learn to love and appreciate you like we do.  Until then, keep plowing over defenders and finding the end zone every game of your career.