Lanning says he’s excited about playing in a bowl game.
Tommy Birch / The Register
AMES, Ia. — Iowa State fans justifiably had a robust sense of angst after Wednesday morning’s announcement that Penn State’s Saquon Barkley won the Hornung Award — for excellence in a variety of ways — during the 2017 football season.
Cyclones fans were hot because Joel Lanning didn’t win — and I see their point.
According to the award’s website, the annual honor goes to “the most versatile player in major college football.”
It’s named after Paul Hornung, who not only was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Notre Dame in 1956, but also a punter, a kick returner and a defensive back.
Who else among this season’s major-college players had a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery, a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown?
Let me help you: No one.
It was the first time since 2006 that it’s been done at the FBS level.
Who else did all kinds of stuff on special teams, played 934 snaps during a 12-game season, and oh by the way …
Who else sacked the guy who Saturday night will win the Heisman Trophy?
Too bad Baker Mayfield couldn’t have voted.
As for Lanning, he:
- Averaged 9.2 tackles a game, second in the Big 12 and 31st among FBS players.
- Had 20 tackles against Texas.
- Converted all four of his fourth-down opportunities.
- Converted all five of his opportunities on third down.
- Had a statistical line in the upset at Oklahoma that included a sack, another tackle for loss, a fumble recovery, 35 rushing yards and 25 passing yards while playing 78 snaps.
Who else played significantly on offense, defense and special teams, during wins against two Top Five opponents?
Penn State played against just one Top Five opponent — Ohio State — and lost the game in which Barkley had 44 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards and a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Barkley is a wonderful player. His NFL draft stock is better than Lanning’s, but that’s not a prerequisite for the award.
Furthermore, Barkley should have been invited to New York for Saturday night’s Baker Mayfield celebration — but the Heisman committee invited only the top three finishers, as is so often the case.
So where did Iowa State’s ironman finish in the Hornung balloting?
We’ll never know. A media rep from the outfit that sponsors the award said they’ve never publicized that information.
Would Barkley have won if he’d played in a Power Five program with a lesser brand?
We’ll never know that, either.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register
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