Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is one of five finalists for the 2011 Heisman Trophy and looms as a slight favorite to win it, based on projections by ESPN and two Internet sites dedicated to predicting the outcome.
By receiving a Monday invitation to be part of Saturday's live announcement of the winner in New York, Griffin is assured of finishing higher in the Heisman race than any Baylor player since quarterback Don Trull, who finished fourth in 1963. Griffin could become the school's first Heisman winner, a milestone that resonates with the junior from Copperas Cove.
"This is huge," Griffin said after Monday's announcement of the finalists. "I'm excited to get the opportunity... I'm also relieved, because you never know how people are going to vote. They voted in our favor and now we're going to New York."
Griffin will join Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu for Saturday's live announcement of the winner. Projections done Monday by ESPN, as well as StiffArmTrophy.com and HeismanPundit.com, showed Griffin with a slight lead over Luck and Richardson based on early returns from Heisman voters who have shared their ballots.
Griffin has thrown for 3,998 yards this season, with 36 touchdown passes and six interceptions.
No Baylor player has finished higher than Trull in Heisman voting. The school's only other top-10 finisher was quarterback Larry Isbell, who finished seventh in 1951. What would a victory mean for Griffin, also a finalist for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award?
"To win the Heisman Trophy is the pinnacle feat of college football. I certainly think it would elevate our status more on the national stage than what it is right now," said Baylor coach Art Briles, whose Bears (9-3) finished 12th in the final BCS standings and will play Washington (7-5) in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.
Griffin said Monday's announcement "will show recruits that you can go to Baylor and make a difference."
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760