Campus Corner

Can Kansas State QB Jake Waters enter the Heisman Trophy conversation?

K-State quarterback Jake Waters looks down field for a receiver in the 2nd half against Auburn (September 18, 2014)
K-State quarterback Jake Waters looks down field for a receiver in the 2nd half against Auburn (September 18, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Earlier this week, Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters was named a semifinalist for both the Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien Award.

Those awards are given to the top overall player and quarterback in college football, respectively, so it’s no stretch to see Waters touring the postseason award circuit next month. A strong finish could keep him in contention for both honors until the bitter end.

Until then, here’s a question worth pondering: If Waters is considered a serious contender for those prestigious awards, can he also be considered for the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious college football award of them all?

Right now, he doesn’t appear to be on anyone’s radar. He didn’t receive a single vote in the latest Heisman Pundit straw poll. He wasn’t mentioned in the latest ESPN Heisman Watch. CBS Sports experts don’t have him in contention, either.

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota are heavy favorites at the moment. It will be hard for anyone to catch them. But if Waters leads K-State to a victory over TCU, and outplays Trevone Boykin (an outside Heisman contender) in the process, Waters could enter the fold.

I presented that scenario to Charles Davis, a Fox Sports college football analyst that will call Saturday’s K-State/TCU game, and he had some insightful thoughts on the matter.

“I think he can get into it,” Davis said. “The hard part for him is this: Trevone Boykin got into it after the threw seven touchdowns (in an 82-27 victory over Texas Tech). Before he threw the seven touchdown passes, people were talking about the great year he was having and maybe being the most improved quarterback in the country. But I didn’t hear Heisman with that, even though he was having a monster year.

“For Jake, it will take something like that. And when was the last time Kansas State’s quarterback did something like that? It’s just not compatible with what they do. Now, Collin Klein obviously built it up over time and became that guy. But remember, his team got all the way up to No. 1 in the country.”

Klein threw for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 920 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2012. He was a Heisman finalist finishing third.

“If Jake Waters and this team keep climbing, he can get into it. But you have to have a hook,” Davis said. “What is Jake Waters’ hook going to be? Maybe it’s the turnover streak that he has. He hasn’t turned the ball over since Auburn and he touches the ball on every play. If he keeps doing that and puts the ball in the end zone, he could maybe have a hook that makes people go, ‘Dang, Jake Waters doesn’t turn it over and he scores a lot of touchdowns.’ If he does that and Kansas State keeps winning, he can get into the conversation.”

Through eight games, Waters has thrown for 1,878 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 404 yards and seven touchdowns. Not bad, but not as good as the current Heisman contenders. As Davis mentioned, limited mistakes (three interceptions) could be his best stat. Well, that and K-State’s 7-1 record.

For comparison purposes Mariota has thrown for 2,541 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 410 yards and seven touchdowns. Prescott has thrown for 2,025 and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 725 yards and 10 touchdowns. Boykin has thrown for 2,472 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 423 yards and four touchdowns.

It seems unlikely that Waters will be able to seriously contend for the Heisman, but don’t rule out the possibility of top-10 consideration. With a closing stretch of games against high-profile opponents TCU, West Virginia and Baylor, the opportunity is there for Waters to gain national attention.

To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to krobinett@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @KellisRobinett.

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