Left out of the Heisman buzz


If the Heisman votes were to be cast today, who would you chose? Adrian Peterson from Oklahoma? Brady Quinn from Notre Dame? Perhaps Troy Smith or Ted Ginn Jr. from Ohio State?

These are the names that most people would consider Heisman-worthy so far this season, but there is a small player in Northern Illinois who is making big strides toward becoming a finalist for the award that goes to the most outstanding player in college football. His name is Garrett Wolfe.

The 5-foot-7-inch, 177-pound running back from Northern Illinois University is the leading rusher in the nation by far. Wolfe’s numbers are quite frankly ridiculously good. He is averaging more yards per game (223.8) than 114 of the 119 Division I-A schools in the country.

The first thing that came to my mind when I read that was that the opponents NIU has faced so far must have been horrible, but that was not the case. NIU’s first opponent was none other than the No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, who Wolfe had 171 rushing yards and 114 receiving yards against in a 35-12 loss.

If that does not impress you, maybe his 31 carries for 353 yards against Ball State on Sept. 30 will. He had three scoring runs for a total of 152 yards and NIU won the game 40-28. Ball State is not the best D-I school in the country, but 353 yards is still 353 yards.

You should also take into consideration that NIU, and I am just guessing here, probably does not exactly sign too many five-star offensive line recruits, so it is not like Wolfe is running behind an all-star line.

Another thing that impresses about Wolfe is the 26 carries per game he has this year. That shows durability for someone of such a small stature. As a matter of fact, everything about Wolfe impresses. He has only played in 26 games for NIU, but still has more career rushing yards than any active running back in Division I-A. His 4,579 rushing yards is 794 yards more than the career total of Oklahoma’s Peterson, who has also played in three more games. Peterson has been in the Heisman talks since his incredible freshman year when he rushed for 1,925 yards and 15 touchdowns, but Wolfe has been more consistent and putting up better numbers in the shadows of his more heralded rival.

Heisman winners usually come from winning teams as well, and guess what, so far this year NIU is winning. They are not undefeated like Ohio State, but after losing their first two games, NIU has won four straight games and Wolfe has already amassed 13 touchdowns and 1,343 yards on the ground. If that is not Heisman-worthy, I do not know what is.