NEW YORK - Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, hoping to become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the runner-up for last year's award, were among the four finalists for the award selected yesterday.
Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel and Hawaii QB Colt Brennan were the other finalists.
The four will be in New York on Saturday night when the award is given to the top player in college football.
Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, once considered a top candidate, was not invited. Ryan is a graduate of Penn Charter.
Since the first Heisman was given to Chicago's Jay Berwanger in 1935, all 70 players who have won college football's most prestigious award have been juniors or seniors.
Tebow could break that trend. The ultimate dual-threat quarterback at about 235 pounds, Tebow rushed for 838 yards and a Southeastern Conference-record 22 touchdowns.
He is also the nation's second-leading passer, having completed 68 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards, with 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his first season as a starter.
Tebow is the first major-college player to run for 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season.
McFadden was one of the preseason favorites after finishing second to Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in the Heisman voting last year. His candidacy lagged with a mediocre October, but he gave himself a boost with a spectacular November.
Daniel was one of six quarterbacks to reach 4,000 yards passing this season. Brennan led Hawaii (12-0) to the only perfect regular season in major-college football and its first BCS appearance.
"I think it's a good race," Brennan said at a news conference. "I think anybody can win it. It's up to the voters. It will be interesting to see how it plays out."
The Heisman seemed wide open until the last month, when Tebow, McFadden and Daniel emerged as front-runners.
McFadden could become the fifth player to win the Heisman the year after being the runner-up, joining Tom Harmon of Michigan, Glenn Davis of Army, O.J. Simpson of Southern Cal, and Herschel Walker of Georgia.
McFadden and Brennan were among the players who received plenty of preseason Heisman hype, along with Southern California quarterback John David Booty, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm, Rutgers running back Ray Rice, and Michigan running back Mike Hart.
Booty missed time with injuries and never made a serious run. Injuries also held back Hart. Brohm and Rice had big numbers, but their teams slumped.
Midway through the season, Tebow and Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon started separating themselves from the pack in the Heisman race. A knee injury ended Dixon's season early.