NEW YORK - A Heisman Trophy race that once seemed muddled has been pared to four contenders and even has a favorite.
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, trying to become the first sophomore to win the trophy, has emerged as the front-runner among the finalists, who will be in New York tomorrow night vying for the award, given to the top player in college football.
The other finalists are Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the runner-up for last year's Heisman; Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel; and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan.
The race took a while to develop this season and seemed wide open until the last month, when Tebow, McFadden and Daniel emerged as front-runners.
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 has a good shot to counter that trend. After helping the Gators win a national championship last season as a freshman, the 235-pound dual-threat quarterback ran for 838 yards and a Southeastern Conference record of 22 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.
He's also the nation's second-leading passer, having completed 68 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards, with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Tebow became the first major-college player to run for 20 touchdowns and throw 20 touchdown passes in the same season.
McFadden, who finished second to Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith last year, tied the SEC record with 321 yards rushing against South Carolina, and ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass to lead the Razorbacks to a 50-48 triple-overtime victory over then-top-ranked Louisiana State.
Daniel was one of six quarterbacks to reach 4,000 yards passing this season. He threw for 4,170 yards and 33 touchdowns to get the surprising Tigers within a victory of the Bowl Championship Series' national championship game.
This season, Brennan passed for 4,174 yards and 38 touchdowns for Hawaii (12-0). He also set the major-college record for career touchdown passes with 131.