Fans of Nebraska, and of Big Ten football, know that Huskers quarterback Adrian Martinez is going to be special. Heck, he already is special. As a true freshman, Martinez has had his share of ups and downs, but he has shown glimpses of a player that can be a game changer not only with his arm but with his legs as well.

Folks may not know Martinez now on a nationwide basis, but if the Huskers can finish the 2018 season strong, he may be a dark horse name mentioned in the early 2019 Heisman Trophy race. In fact, he should.

The numbers

It is very rare that a quarterback is a starter in his freshman season.

Martinez embraced the role, and while his team has posted just two wins so far in 2018, they have played much better than their record indicates.

So how does Martinez stack up against the 2018 top Heisman contenders? According to NBC Sports, Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama is the favorite to win the award this season and seems to be a lock to be named the best player in college football.

Tagovailoa has thrown for 27 touchdowns, one interception, and a total of 2,361 yards. It also helps that Tagovailoa plays for Alabama, a team that is on television, nationally, five or six times a season and is always ranked in the AP Top 25, usually at No. 1 or No. 2.

In comparison, Martinez has thrown for 12 touchdowns, 1,922 yards, and six interceptions.

Those numbers aren't that bad, but remember, this measurement is against the heavy favorite to win the Heisman this year. If Martinez continues to improve, his numbers next season should be a lot better.

Winning matters

Does winning matter in terms of the Heisman Trophy? That is debatable, but the realistic answer is yes. The top three favorites to claim the 2018 Heisman are all quarterbacks, and they all play on top-ranked teams.

Behind Tagovailoa is Oklahoma junior signal caller Kyler Murray followed by West Virginia’s Will Grier - who is in his senior season. Do you see a pattern here? The favorites are all on winning team’s and two out of three are upperclassmen. While you don't have to be on a Top 10 winning program to win the Heisman, having a winning record and going to a bowl game does matter only in the fact that more folks will see you on a regular basis.

The Huskers are a team on the rise. The talent is there and if Martinez is at the helm when Nebraska makes a run at a Big Ten title in the next two-three years, his name will definitely be in the Heisman conversation. You heard it here first!