It's White, Manning, Fitzgerald, Perry

Updated: December 12, 2003, 12:35 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Oklahoma quarterback Jason White was picked Wednesday as one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy award.

White was joined by Pittsburgh receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning and Michigan running back Chris Perry.

White, voted as The Associated Press' top player earlier Wednesday, is the favorite along with Fitzgerald. The winner will be announced Saturday night at the Yale Club in New York.

The People's Vote
A look at SportsNation's Heisman picks through the season:

Preseason: Eli Manning (40%)
October: Jason White (50%)
November: Larry Fitzgerald (44%)
December: Larry Fitzgerald (47%)
Total Votes: 497, 903

Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer won the award last year.

Manning was the only one of the finalists who was prominently mentioned as a leading candidate before the season started.

White was coming off a pair of season-ending knee injuries, Fitzgerald was only a sophomore and Perry had never had a breakout season.

White had one of the best seasons ever for a college quarterback, guiding the Sooners to a 12-1 record and keeping them at the top of the polls until the final week of the season.

He threw at least two touchdown passes every game until struggling in the Big 12 championship last Saturday against Kansas State. He went 27-for-50 for 298 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 35-7 loss to the Wildcats.

White completed 265 of 414 passes for 3,744 yards, with 40 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, leading the nation in passing efficiency.

"He's had one of the greatest years of any quarterback ever," Oklahoma offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. "It's a great story for anyone. People could learn a lot from his determination."

The third-ranked Sooners still made it to the BCS title game at the Nokia Sugar Bowl despite the loss. They will play No. 2 LSU on Jan. 4 for the championship of the coaches' poll.

No. 1 USC plays No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 with a chance to win the AP title.

Fitzgerald had 87 catches for 1,595 yards and 22 touchdowns, but his team finished 8-4. He caught at least one touchdown pass in all 12 games -- tying Randy Moss' single-season NCAA record -- and in a record 18 consecutive games dating to last season.

He set seven Big East records while leading the nation in receiving yards per game (132.9), total receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and total touchdowns.

"He virtually carried that offense single-handedly," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "He's as good as it gets."

Manning won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation's top senior quarterback. He has thrown for 3,341 yards and 27 touchdowns this season for No. 16 Mississippi.

Manning led the Southeastern Conference in yards passing per game, completions, TD passes and average total offense. He holds 45 school records, 27 of which were once held by his father, Archie.

Manning's hopes to win the Heisman Trophy that his father and brother, Peyton, fell short of were hurt by a poor performance last month against LSU with the SEC West title on the line.

He went 16-for-36 for 200 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 17-14 loss to the Tigers on Nov. 22.

While some of the Heisman finalists struggled in their biggest games, Perry did his best against the biggest opponents. He was fourth in the nation with 1,589 yards rushing and also caught 42 passes and scored 19 touchdowns.

Perry capped a spectacular season with a 204-yard, two-TD game in a 35-21 victory against Ohio State that sent Michigan to the Rose Bowl.

Perry also ran for 219 yards and a touchdown on 51 attempts against Michigan State, caught 11 passes for 122 yards and a TD and had 85 yards rushing and another score in a comeback win against Minnesota that saved the Wolverines' season, and scored four touchdowns against Notre Dame.

There were 922 ballots sent out for the award, 870 to the media, 51 to former winners one for a special fan vote.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press