Is Russell the nation's best quarterback?

Are the Oakland Raiders winning the JaMarcus Russell sweepstakes?

This time last year it looked to be a race to the finish between the New Orleans Saints and the rest of the NFL lackeys for the opportunity to draft USC's Reggie Bush. This year Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn looked to be the winner, or the loser depending how you look at it. But fate changed for the Fighting Irish's golden boy, and with one lose and a series of close games, the Heisman Trophy and the overall NFL pick could pass him by.


In walks LSU's JaMarcus Russell.


Going into Auburn, the rumor on the plains was that LSU's most prolific passer was coming to town. Russell carried the team to a near victory, and was limited by play calling through the first three quarters.


The junior from Mobile, Ala. has excelled in every game this season, and was a 10 game winner in 2005, including a Southeastern Conference Western Division Championship. Just this season after five contests, Russell has accounted for 1,246 yards through the air with 10 touchdowns.  


As Heisman talks begin to circulate across the nation, Russell said he is just trying to win games.


"I try not to think about it that much," Russell said. "I've always thought I was number one in my eyes. If I would win, it would reflect the effort of my teammates."


Heisman talk began to circulate following Russell's 330-yard passing performance on Saturday against Mississippi State. 330 yards doesn't make Russell the greatest collegiate passer in the country, but as for NFL and Heisman qualifications, Russell's name could be called following more performances like Saturdays.


Currently Russell does not appear on ESPN's Heisman Watch web page, but the junior could climb onto the list with a solid showing at The Swamp in Gainesville. As the Tigers begin to move into the meat of their schedule, Russell's name should receive more recognition with every quality performance.


"He has matured as a quarterback and is playing with a lot of poise," receiver Early Doucet said. "He is not rushing his decisions. He doesn't hesitate to throw the ball. We've been around each other so much."


At the end of the season, Russell will have the important decision of entering the NFL draft or staying in Baton Rouge one last season. Because of his recent success and  physical attributes (6-6, 252 pounds), he is unlike any other quarterback in the country.

"Is he the best? I don't know," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "Would I trade him for somebody else? No."

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