A little more than two hours after UCLA tailback Maurice Drew compiled his latest one-game highlight film, the e-mails began flowing from the sports information staff touting the junior as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
After the final play of the most memorable game the Bruins played under third-year coach Karl Dorrell, players followed suit by claiming Drew, who matched his school record with five touchdowns, is Heisman campaign worthy.
"Maurice Drew is so elusive, so shifty, and he makes so many big plays," Bruins receiver Marcus Everett said. "I think he's the best player in the Pac-10. He's just a great player."
Drew's 299 all-purpose yards 65 rushing, 52 receiving, 20 on kickoff returns and 162 on punt returns was the second-highest total in the Division I this season, and earned him the Walker Camp offensive player of the week award.
In UCLA's 47-40 victory against the then No. 10 Cal at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, he averaged 14.2 yards in his 21 touches. His effort enabled UCLA to climb eight spots in the Associated Press poll to No. 12, its highest ranking since 2001. The Bruins are also No. 12 in the coaches' poll, and according to the release sent out by UCLA, "Drew is playing himself into Heisman Trophy consideration."
Drew is eighth nationally in all-purpose yards at 172.4 per game, tied for the NCAA lead with 14.4 points per game and leads the nation in punt returns at 33.8 yards per attempt.
"That dude is amazing," said UCLA tight end Marcedes Lewis, an All-America candidate. "I don't know the word for that guy. He's the real deal. When you have a running back like that, it makes everyone's job easier. He does everything. What can't he do? Return team, running back, receiver? He can do it all."
Drew's 12 touchdowns match his career high, and his average scoring play is 28.4 yards. His three punt-return touchdowns this season, and four in his career, tie Pacific-10 and school records. And more special things could be on the way. Dorrell hinted Drew could join the kick return unit permanently.