Pennington Named Finalist for Heisman Trophy

Updated 12/6/1999

Marshall Senior quarterback Chad Pennington is one of five finalists for the 1999 Heisman Trophy as announced by the Downtown Athletic Club.

Pennington, along with three other quarterbacks and record-setting running back Ron Dayne of Wisconsin were finalists.

"I'm surprised, but I'm honored to be mentioned with those guys," Pennington said. "Ron Dayne's had a great season. He's broken the rushing record. It's going to be tough to beat him."

Pennington, who led the Thundering Herd (12-0) to a perfect regular season, was third nationally in passing, completing 275 of 405 for 3,799 yards and 37 TDs.

On Friday, he led the Herd to a 34-30 victory over Western Michigan in the Mid-American Conference championship game after being down 23-0. Marshall earned its third straight berth in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 27 in Pontiac, Mich.

The other finalists are Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, Purdue quarterback Drew Brees and Virginia Tech freshman quarterback Michael Vick.

The finalists were invited based on returns from a majority of the 921 Heisman voters.

Dayne, who ran for 1,834 yards and broke Ricky Williams Division I-A career rushing record in leading the Badgers (9-2) to the Rose Bowl, is considered the Heisman favorite.

No freshman or sophomore has ever won the Heisman, and just 13 juniors have won the award since the first one went to Jay Berwanger in 1935.

Vick certainly earned the invite. He led the second-ranked Hokies (11-0) to a national title showdown against Florida State in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 and was the nation's top-rated passer. He completed 90 of 152 passes for 1,840 yards and 12 TDs, and also ran for 585 yards and eight TDs.

Hamilton, was the second-rated passer with 3,060 yards and 29 TDs in the Yellow Jackets' 8-3 season.

Brees threw for 3,531 yards and 21 TDs in leading Purdue to a 7-4 record.