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Kingsbury's numbers, success all becoming harder to ignore

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

LUBBOCK, Texas -- In a year with no clear Heisman Trophy favorite, why not take a long look at Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury?

Or Chris Brown of Colorado, for that matter? Or Quentin Griffin of Oklahoma? Or Seneca Wallace of Iowa State? Or Ell Roberson of Kansas State?

They have all had outstanding seasons in the rugged Big 12 Conference, and that's giving Heisman and all-conference voters plenty to think about.

"I don't know who it is," Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said Monday when asked about a Heisman favorite from the league. "Maybe it's a compliment that we've got so many that one doesn't stand out, because we have so many who are having good seasons."

Kingsbury's numbers are Heisman-like, to be sure, and he also has led the No. 24 Red Raiders to within a victory of the Big 12 South title, something few would have expected when the season began.

"I believe he deserves the recognition," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, whose team faces Kingsbury this week for the South Division title. "He's a tremendous player. I'm sure there's a lot of other quarterbacks around who wouldn't do it near as well as he has."

Kingsbury has completed 68 percent of his passes for 4,455 yards and 41 touchdowns. He had six TDs Saturday in a 42-38 victory over then-No. 4 Texas that knocked the Longhorns out of the chase for a conference or national title.

He threw 60 passes against Texas without being intercepted -- only 10 of his 634 passes this season have been picked off.

"You've got to do something to get him off his rhythm, and we couldn't do it," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "That's the best I've ever seen him play."

Brown, Stoops and other coaches on the Big 12's weekly conference call said it would be tough to name one league MVP or Heisman candidate from the Big 12. Stoops touted his tailback, Griffin, a 1,000-yard rusher who has six straight 100-yard games. Brown said his quarterback, Chris Simms, deserves consideration.

Chris Brown, who leads the nation in rushing with 1,744 yards, has helped lead Colorado to the North Division title. Iowa State's Wallace was mentioned as a Heisman front-runner when the Cyclones were 6-1, although they have since lost four of five. Roberson's play has been a big reason why Kansas State has surged of late.

Baylor coach Kevin Steele hasn't seen Wallace this year. But his team has faced Brown, Roberson, Kingsbury, Simms and Griffin the past five weeks.

"They're all great players and with what they're asked to do, they do it very well," he said. "To pick one of 'em, I don't have to so I'm not going to."

Colorado coach Gary Barnett said a league's strength will generally result in no clear individual being produced.

"Those things just happen, you don't produce 'em," he said. "Some guy catches fire and has a great year."


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