The names have been as many as the number of teams that have sat atop the Associated Press' Top 25 poll.
First, it was USC's Matt Barkley.
Then, it was WVU's Geno Smith.
Now, Texas A & M's Johnny 'Football' Manziel.
But, in this writer's humble opinion, the name no one seems to be speaking about as the nation's top football player and the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy should be the Mountaineers' Tavon Austin.
Yes, each and every one of the aforementioned athletes would be deserving of being selected as the top collegiate football player in the country. Those names and many, many more.
If fact the voting this year may very well be the closest in the history of the coveted award.
Just as deserving as those above, names like Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, The Ohio State University's Braxton Miller, Collin Klein from Kansas State, Landry Jones from Oklahoma, Alabama's A.J. McCarron and Oregon's Kenjon Barner are just as likely to be invited to the award ceremony next month in New York City.
Each player has credentials worthy of taking home the Heisman, so why WVU's Austin?
Simple. There is not a player that I have watched that fans from both competing teams hold their breaths in anticipation for what unbelievable play the diminutive Baltimore native will come up with next.
Whether it be as a receiver, a running back, a punt returner or a kickoff returner, Austin has shown the ability to dazzle defenders and leave opposing coaches wondering why their players can't contain the Mountaineers' standout.
WVU's senior has accomplished the feat while playing in two different conferences-the Big East and the Big 12. He has been near the top or leading in all-purpose yardage for the past two years, was Special Teams Player of the Year in the Big East during WVU's final season in the league and was selected to the Big 12's Preseason honor list before the old gold and blue had played a game in their new home.
It is highly unlikely that WVU's receiver/running back/punt returner/kick returner wins the award. It is also highly unlikely that he will be one of the five athletes invited to New York City for the ceremonial presentation.
That doesn't mean he isn't just as deserving.
The race for the Heisman has become nearly identical as the race for the presidency. Politics, in this case the constant, almost annoying bantering by ESPN and its cast of talking heads/analysts, has made it impossible for any one other than the flavor-of-the-week pick by the experts at the all-sports station, to capture any individual award.
But, if I had a vote, Tavon Austin would be my top choice.
If it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, then seeing a Mountaineer team without No. 1 scurrying around the artificial surface at Milan Puskar Stadium will truly be a very, very sad day for fans, who will have one last chance to see Austin perform his magic at home this Saturday when Kansas visits for Senior Day.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com