Four of the five 2016 Heisman Trophy finalists (Deshaun Watson has not yet arrived) met with the assembled media today at the Marriott Marquis in mid-town Manhattan. Here are some excerpts from the press conference and some photos of the finalists on their first day in New York City.
“Everything seems so tall to me. It’s tremendous. It’s better than seeing it on TV. It’s my first time to New York, so I’m pumped right now.(On being named a Heisman finalist) “It means a lot. There are a lot of great guys who are here with me and a lot of great guys who came before me. It’s an honor. I’m happy. I’m humble. Anyone can win it. I’m humble about everything that happened to me and I’m just happy to be in this situation.?I thought about it a lot growing up, playing the NCAA video game. I was like “Man, it’d be great to go to college and win that award.” So just for me to be sitting here and to have my name talked about is just crazy.
(On all the media attention and they whirlwind of the week) “You can’t get overwhelmed by everything. You have to just stay calm. I’m calm right now. When I come to events, I try not to pay attention to all the cameras and stuff like that. It’s been crazy, from having the awards show last night to having to get up at 6 a.m. to catch a flight to New York. Just crazy.
(On the responsibilities of being a quarterback)
“You’ve got to be the field general. When you’re teammates are down and you’re in a bad situation, you’ve got to have a comeback in you. You might have your ups and downs at quarterback, so you need to stay level, stay humble and lead your team during the game. You have to be a leader out there.”
(On showing his versatility as a football player)
“I’m just playing football. I’ve been doing that my whole life. It’s kind’ve become a habit. I like to think I’m more of a thinker as opposed to how good I actually am on the field. I like to use my mind to get that extra edge. I’m very football savvy so I understand a lot of football positions inside and out. I know what the defense are looking for, I know what the offenses are looking for. It’s more mental than it is physical. They prepare you so well and just drill it into your head, you really have to try to mess up. It’s not as difficult as people make it seem and it’s not as easy as people make it seem. I just try to be as well rounded as possible. Wherever you need me to play, I’ll play. Just give me two weeks to master the position, if that’s all you need me to do. But I was always told to be a guy who’s hard to take off the field.
(On winning the Hornung Award) “It means a lot. I felt as though (USC CB) Adoree’ Jackson probably should’ve got the nod, but they chose me so I’m more than grateful. We do similar things for our teams — offense, defense, specials teams. I think if he had played offense a little bit earlier in the season, he would’ve got that but I’m more than happy. It’s definitely a great name to be listed with. I’m happy that people are recognizing what I’m trying to do and it feels good being rewarded for working hard.
(On being in New York with the other finalists)
“Dede Westbrook. He’s the most explosive player in college football. If you watch what he does on the field consistently, he’s changed our offense completely. You can see a huge difference from when he wasn’t completely healthy in our first few games. You saw that in our offensive production.(On what being named a finalist means to him)
“As a kid, as a guy growing up, you dream of stuff like this, but you never really come to the realization that stuff like this will ever happen. You always have goals, but that’s why it’s so surreal to be here, to be a part of this discussion. That’s why I enjoy it so much. I’m going to enjoy it and have fun with it.
(On why he’s returning to OU for his senior season)
“One of the main goals was to win a national title. To be able to maybe put the pieces back together and convince some of the juniors that might be thinking about leaving to come back that I’m going to be there for them, that I’m going to put the team first and I want to win. A lot of factors play into it. I fought so hard to get my extra year of eligibility at Oklahoma so why not enjoy playing at my dream school?
(On New York City)
“There are a lot of people here. There’s always traffic. I don’t think I could live here. It’s a busy place. It feels like it’s non-stop. So far we’ve been non-stop, so I’m trying to get used to it. I’m excited to see New York City a little bit later when we do our tour.
(On the experience of being a finalist)
(On who he would pick if he had a Heisman vote)
“This is my first time coming to New York. I like it a lot. I’m a bit overwhelmed because there’s a lot of movement going around and me being from the country, you may see two or three people from each block. It’s very overwhelming, but I like it.(On being nervous ahead of the ceremony)
“I neverdreamed that this would happen. I just always wanted to be a kid who played football and be someone to look up to. But as far as making it to this point, it’s pretty crazy and it shows you my journey.”