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I knew it might be close, but didn't want to think so. Brian Griese: After that game, I didn't have any doubt that he was the best player in the country.Peyton had the bigger name, but Charles was the better player when you look at what he meant to that national championship team and all he did in every phase of the game.ABC broadcaster Keith Jackson: It seemed like every game Woodson was doing something different to help Michigan win, and it was usually in spectacular fashion, just like that interception.The game was changing, and I think people realized his brilliance and weren't afraid to do something out of the norm -- and that's voting for a defensive player. He was the most impactful player in college football, and that's why I voted for him.It was a day game, and that interception was all over the highlights.All afternoon and all night, they were replaying that play. Woodson: I had started to gain some momentum as far as people saying I was in the running and there was some buzz around me, but I think the one-handed catch against Michigan State was the moment when people finally decided I was a serious candidate for the Heisman Trophy.When Woodson edged Manning to become the first primarily defensive player to win the coveted award, it set off howls of protests in Knoxville, Tennessee.To this day, fans on all sides fiercely debate if the voters got it right.
George: Really, Peyton got screwed when he didn't beat us for those four years. maybe they just wanted a defensive back to win the thing.
And I think that's why he won the Heisman Trophy that year, and obviously a lot of people agree with me.
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer: I thought it had maybe gone from a lock to a closer race because Woodson had a big game against Ohio State and returned a kick and caught a touchdown pass.
There was Tennessee QB Peyton Manning, who spurned NFL riches the year before to return to school to win an SEC title and throw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns.
There was Michigan's do-everything playmaker Charles Woodson, who dominated at cornerback but also excelled on special teams and offense for the unbeaten and top-ranked Wolverines.