Lots to handle in my first season on the Washington Huskies football beat, but one of the biggest but most pleasant surprises to come my way was being awarded a vote for the 2009 Heisman Trophy vote.
Don Borst, an ex-TNT sportswriter, is the regional assigner for Heisman tallies. I know colleague John McGrath has a vote, as do Bob Condotta and Bud Withers, of the Seattle Times.
Here is how my vote went at the deadline Monday:
1, Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford2, Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama3, Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
To be honest, most of the season, I had Florida's Tim Tebow at the top of my ballot, even though admittedly he was not having his best year statistically. I put a lot of value in a player helping his team win games.
But the SEC title game swayed me more than any other contest this season.
I took Tebow off the ballot, and put Ingram in the top-three. I never really considered him at No. 1.
The remaining two – Gerhart and Tate – have been on my ballot pretty much the entire season. And for one big reason, I saw them play in person.
His production – a nation-best 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns – has been astounding considering he's been the focal point of every defense, whether in the Pacific-10 Conference or not.
His worst game was an 82-yard outing at Wake Forest, which was also the only game he did not score a TD.
Against the UW, Gerhart went for 200 yards – one of three 200-yard games in 2009.
Consistency and durability, and his ability to dole out the punishment were deciding factors, as was Stanford's big jump in wins, including victories over USC and Oregon.
Simply put, Gerhart was the best player, but the most exciting, impressive athlete I saw play live all season was Tate. And it wasn't even close.
93 catches, 1,496 yards, 15 TDs. He added 186 rushing yards out of the "Wildcat" offense. He returned a kickoff for a score, too.
Nobody from the UW could handle him – a career-high 244 receiving yards, which was a Notre Dame record. He had nine receptions, including a 77-yard TD catch and rumble in which he navigated through, over and past every Husky defender on the field.
I was surprised he wasn't named a Heisman finalist for this weekend's ceremony in New York.