September Heisman: Beware The Kenny Trill Effect

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The Heisman candidacy of Kenny Trill was college football’s answer to a summertime chart-topper from a one-hit pop wonder.

Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill could certainly write some new hits at TCU. He’ll spend 2015 out of the spotlight, playing understudy to another quarterback who successfully reinvented himself, Trevone Boykin.

Until then, though, his domination of South Carolina last August and subsequent rebranding as Kenny Trill is “Don’t Forget My Number,” “Ice Ice Baby,” or “How Bizarre.”

Don’t blame Kenny Hill for the overreaction to Kenny Trill. Blame football hipsters who wanted to be on board with the new Johnny Football so they could say they discovered him.

The abrupt rise and almost equally abrupt descent of Kenny Trill isn’t a one-off occurrence. Almost every college football season has its hip, new megastar, anointed a Heisman front-runner in September only to fade in the months that follow.

Circumstances causing a September Heisman’s drop-off vary, and are sometimes out of the player’s control. For example, the only reason Kenny Trill wasn’t given the bronze statue after Week 1 last year is an equally overzealous contingent was ready to do so for Georgia’s Todd Gurley.

Like Hill, Gurley missed time due to disciplinary action. But the Trill had worn off A&M’s quarterback beforehand — Gurley likely would have factored into the Heisman discussion throughout the year without his suspension for signing memorabilia, or his ensuing injury.

Injuries can derail even the most realistic of Heisman candidacies. As enamored as college football became with Johnny Manziel in 2012, I can’t help but wonder if Kansas State’s Collin Klein doesn’t lead the Wildcats to an undefeated regular season and score the Heisman were it not for a late-season concussion.

Klein was still a Heisman finalist, but his shot at the award went out the window with K-State’s loss to Baylor late that season.

You’ll be reminded throughout the fall that the Heisman is, in many ways, a team award. Indeed, only one Heisman winner since 2000 hoisted the hardware without winning 10-plus games in the regular season. That winner was Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, who went unbeaten in the pivotal, final month.

If Kenny Trill was a one-hit wonder who roared onto the scene in 2014, RG3 in 2011 was Kendrick Lamar, whose work improved over time.

And, to that end, what you (and your team) have done lately trumps what you’ve done altogether. That’s why September Heisman Denard Robinson was out of the conversation in 2010, despite cumulative statistics that warranted consideration.

Robinson had that same, immediate burst onto the scene like Kenny Trill: Big-time performance in high-profile games, a certain kind of on-field swagger and a cool nickname, Shoelace.

The eight-month layoff since the last college football game has folks feeling antsy, which elicits overreaction once action returns. Someone will be Kenny Trill in 2015, and I might have to include him on the Heisman Top 10 from sheer buzz alone. Enjoy their one hit for what it is, but temper your expectations moving forward accordingly.