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2017 Heisman profile: Stanford’s Bryce Love

Was Bryce Love seen enough during his late night games to win the Heisman?

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The college football season was dominated by teams in the east and south, but there was one player out west striving to make Saturday nights exciting. Bryce Love set out to be the best running back the Pac-12 has to offer and came away with an entire campaign built around his namesake.

#HeismanLove with is undoubtedly the most recognizable media push in the country right now. A brief mission statement on the site describes the Heisman hopeful perfectly.

“Bryce Love isn't your prototypical running back. He's in a category all his own. One year after the record-shattering Christian McCaffrey left a legacy as the greatest in a series of outstanding Stanford backs, Love is stretching that legacy into something totally unparalleled. The nation's strongest pound-for-pound running back is putting up numbers more akin to a video game. And he's not even close to being done.”

NCAA Football: Oregon at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

As a senior in high school, the Wake Forest, NC native was courted by over 25 teams, Stanford being the sole Pac-12 team trying to recruit the talented rusher. Love excels in the classroom as well, pulling a 4.5 GPA while finding a balance between life and football. Love is also one of the fastest all-around backs in the nation, being clocked with a 4.3 40-yard dash time. It’s not hard not to tell when reviewing game film of opposing defenses struggling to keep up with the Cardinal back.

“You have to find a way to contribute any way you can,” Love said about this season and playing with an ankle injury.

“Being out there and finding ways to make plays or finding ways to draw attention. Just different things like that, in any way that I can. Just focusing on the task at hand more than anything and taking it one play at a time.”

Among his accomplishments this season, Love set Stanford’s single-game rushing record (301 yards vs. Arizona State), rushed for 100+ in 12 of the 13 games, had 16 rushing touchdowns (7th in the FBS), and is second in the nation with an average of 168.0 yard per contest and a total of 1,848 rushing yards. His style on the field has been compared to a faster version of Barry Sanders. Love is able to create separation with a burst through the line of scrimmage while fighting off defenders, a huge reason why he’s averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

The last time a Stanford player left New York with the Heisman Trophy was 47 years ago, quarterback Jim Plunkett’s outstanding 1970 season. Love can become the fourth Pac-12 running back to win the award since 1980, joining the elite company of USC’s Reggie Bush (2005), Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam (1994) and USC’s Marcus Allen (1981).

The four candidates will wait until next week to see if their names will be selected as finalist. The 83rd Heisman presentation is on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8:00 pm ET on ESPN.