CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 4: Running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs for a gain during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
When tackling (get it?) a topic like this, Rutgers fans have only one answer: Ray Rice.
There have always been people who came up short in the running for college's most coveted trophy. In fact, when I wrote about the Heisman Trophy last week, I thought Andrew Luck has won it last year. For sure. So, there are a ton of candidates to pull from, to write about, when thinking about who got hosed for a Heisman.
That said, Rutgers has always believed in Rice. If ever there was a moment where Rutgers could celebrate one of their own players on the national stage, Rice was that player back in 2007. He had a very good freshman year in 2005, including a very memorable game against UConn, helping the Scarlet Knights get to a Bowl for the first time in forever. The following year, Rice was incredible, helping Rutgers to a top ten ranking for part of the season.
So, in 2007, the fans were amped for Rice. And he did not disappoint. He set the team record for most rushing yards in a game TWICE in the same season. He averaged 5.3 rushing yards per attempt. He scored 25 total touchdowns. He was given the ball 405 times.
Basically, he was Rutgers, and helped them get to another bowl, where they annihilated Ball State. Unfortunately, in both 2006 and 2007, the Big East's poor bowl connections kept Rutgers from being on a bigger stage. That, more than anything else, hurt Rutgers and Rice's reputation.
But, if anyone from Rutgers ever deserved the trophy, it was Rice. He was due. At the end of that year, Rice was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, forgoing his senior year and another shot at the Trophy.
But in the hearts of Rutgers fans, he should have won it in 2007.
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