Why they don't award the Heisman in September

Tua is leading Alabama (0:50)

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has gotten off to a great start this season and is showing no signs of slowing down. (0:50)

Beware the September Heisman.

You've seen him before, with his seemingly never-ending array of highlights and eye-popping statistics to start the season. He's a revelation, practically bursting onto the scene and into the forefront of the national conversation. He's the best player in college football ... for a month.

Through five games this season, you can take your pick among a trio of quarterbacks who fit the superhuman bill: Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oklahoma's Kyler Murray and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins. West Virginia's Will Grier, too.

Haskins has had perhaps the most impressive statistics thus far, with 1,464 yards and 19 touchdowns passing. Murray isn't far behind, having thrown for 1,460 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also has rushed for four scores.

Then there's the lefty from Hawaii, the hero of last season's national title game who beat out a two-time starter and former SEC Offensive Player of the Year for the starting job. Tagovailoa has lived up to the hype and then some. Despite not attempting a single pass during the fourth quarter, he has thrown for 1,161 yards, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also has rushed for two scores.

It's hard not to get carried away with those kind of numbers, but try. Because these types of fast starts aren't unusual in the sport and they don't always equate to hoisting the Heisman Trophy in New York at the end of the season.

Sometimes they do. Think of Mark Ingram in 2009, Marcus Mariota in 2014, Lamar Jackson in 2016 or Baker Mayfield last year. They practically went wire-to-wire to win the award.

But a lot of the time the front-runner fades, like Leonard Fournette in 2015 or Mariota in 2013. There could be an injury that's to blame, like Adrian Peterson's broken collarbone in 2006, or a suspension, like Todd Gurley's four-game absence in 2014, that permanently derails the Heisman campaign.

Other times it's just a matter of running out of steam. Not to pick on Geno Smith, but he became Mr. September Heisman in 2012. The West Virginia quarterback was putting up unfathomable numbers through September with 1,728 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. He was completing 83 percent of his passes. He closed out the month by throwing eight touchdowns against a decent Baylor team. And when it was all said and done, his numbers tapered off, his Mountaineers lost five of their final seven games of the regular season, and he finished outside the top 10 of Heisman voting as some kid named Johnny Football came out of nowhere to claim the award.

Lest we forget, Johnny Manziel's successor at Texas A&M, Kenny Hill, became Kenny Trill in September 2014 by lighting up opposing defenses. Bun B was shouting him out online. Four months later, Hill had no Heisman, no starting job, a nickname he couldn't escape and a list of schools he was considering transferring to.

There's a long list of favorites who never followed through on their impressive starts: Kyle Orton in 2004, Andre Woodson in 2007, Colt McCoy in 2008. We could go back further, but you get the point. In 2015, none of the five supposed front-runners -- Fournette, Nick Chubb, Trevone Boykin, Ezekiel Elliott or Myles Garrett -- won. Instead, it was Derrick Henry, who absolutely owned the second half of the season with four 200-yard rushing games.

With today's Heisman hopefuls, Tagovailoa, Murray and Haskins, it's important to keep things in perspective. Remember their inexperience. Murray had started three games in his career entering the season, and they were all at Texas A&M in 2015. Tagovailoa and Haskins had never started a game until a month ago.

There's no hint of growing pains on the horizon now, but life comes at you fast. Defenses will make adjustments and someone will crash back to earth.

Ultimately no one is judged by what happens in September. It's only a springboard to the rest of the season, when trips to the playoff and conference championships are on the line.

Haskins still has to beat Michigan. Tagovailoa still has to go into Death Valley and beat LSU. Murray has to do well in the Red River Rivalry against Texas on Saturday and will have a head-to-head battle with another Heisman hopeful, Grier, to end the regular season.

Those are the games and the national stages when you win the award.

Reputations take shape in September. They're cemented -- or sometimes bronzed -- in the months that follow.