Harrison joins elite group w/ Heisman showing

RECORD-SETTING COUGAR running back Jerome Harrison, on track to become a consensus first-team All-American, added another notch to his considerable belt of honor on Saturday when he became the eighth Cougar in the 70-year history of the Heisman Trophy to crack the top 10 in balloting for football's biggest award. Harrison finished No. 9, one vote behind UCLA quarterback Drew Olson.

Also on Saturday, Harrison was named first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America -- the fourth All-America team he's been picked to so far this season.

The winner of the Heisman was USC running back Reggie Bush. Texas quarterback Vince Young was second and last year's winner, USC quarterback Matt Leinart, was third.

Unlike those three, Harrison's candidacy truly started from scratch. Aside from a self-proclamation in August that he could gain 1,800 yards this season, he was largely overlooked by most pre-season pundits blinded by the glow of Bush, UCLA's Maurice Drew and Cal's Marshawn Lynch.

With a mind-numbing 1,900 rushing yards to lead the nation, Harrison passed Corey Dillon, Charles White and O.J. Simpson to move into fifth place all-time on the Pac-10 list for single season rushing yards. In the process, he became one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, emblematic of the nation's top running back (an honor Bush ultimately won).

Harrison finished this season with 2,113 all-purpose yards, five yards shy of the great Bernard Jackson on WSU's single-season list.

"The Ghost," the pride of Kalamazoo, Mich., topped the 200-yard mark four times this season on his way to racking up 16 touchdowns and setting the all-time single season rushing record at Washington State. He ran for at least 100 yards in a Pac-10 record 14 consecutive games.

In a ridiculous eight of 11 games this season, Harrison topped the century mark by halftime behind a stellar Cougar offensive line.

RYAN LEAF, THE Pac-10's Offensive Player of the Year in 1997, was WSU's highest-ever Heisman finisher when he placed third that year behind Michigan's Charles Woodson and Tennessee's Peyton Manning.

Gesser: No. 7 in 2002

The other Cougars who have placed in the top 10 in Heisman balloting are:

• Senior QB Jason Gesser (seventh in 2002);
• Junior QB Drew Bledsoe (eighth in 1993);
• Junior QB Timm Rosenbach (seventh in 1988);
• Junior running back Rueben Mayes (tenth in 1984);
• Senior QB Jack Thompson (ninth in 1978), and
• Senior quarterback Ed Goddard, a three-time All-American who finished eighth, ninth or tenth in 1936.

For the record, the Heisman winners in those years were, respectively, Carson Palmer (USC), Charlie Ward (Florida State), Barry Sanders (Oklahoma), Doug Flutie (Boston College), Billy Sims (Oklahoma) and Larry Kelley (Yale).

The uncertainty over Goddard's finish stems from the fact records for 1936 only show a top seven. Given the fact he was the second-highest vote getter in the Western region behind winner Kelley, and that Goddard subsequently became the second overall player taken in the NFL draft, odds are good he landed between eighth and tenth in overall balloting.

LEAF'S SHOWING, by the way, was the second-highest ever by a player from the Pacific Northwest, bested only by Oregon State's Terry Baker who won the Heisman in 1962. Further evidence that living West of the Mississippi and/or not in Los Angeles is a serious detriment to a player's Heisman chances, Baker is the only Pac-10 player not from a California school to win the award.

WSU linebacker Cory Evans expresses the sentiment of the Cougar Nation following the Apple Cup victory over Washington. Jerome Harrison is one of only five backs in Pac-10 history to rush for 1,900 yards or more in a season. The others are Marcus Allen (1981), Charles White (1979), Ricky Bell (1975) and J.J. Arrington (2004). Allen and White both won the Heisman Trophy.

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