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Dark Horse Contender: Cody Getz, RB, Air Force
Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
Heard of him? Neither had we, but his astounding rushing numbers have forced a man from one of the military academies into the Heisman conversation. He is only 5-foot-7, but as a senior he has had a few years to round into big-time form. He has compiled 887 yards through only five games. Before you holler, ‘Where’s the competition?!’, Getz averaged 5.0 yards per carry in compiling 130 yards in a closer-than-expected loss at Michigan and he is now the first Air Force running back to ever rush for over 100 yards in four straight games. He might be small, he might be a darkhorse, but he is still a contender.
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Dark Horse Contender: Stefphon Jefferson, RB, Nevada
Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
Another running back piling up the rushing yards for a school that does not have the national presence of a place like Alabama or Ohio State. Through the Wolf Pack’s first six games of the 2012 season, Jefferson has put up Madden-esque numbers. He has broken 150 yards three times already, including a 247-yard outburst against Northwestern State (not quite a juggernaut, admittedly) on his way to 955 yards and a 5.2 yard per carry average. It might be a long way from Nevada to New York, but if anyone can make the trip, Jefferson will have to continue to put up astronomical numbers to be the guy.
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Dark Horse Contender: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
With a nickname like ‘Johnny Football’, how can you not at least give the guy a chance? Not only is he a redshirt freshman, playing the first college football of his career, he is doing so under a new head coach and he is winning football games and setting passing records in his program’s first year in a new conference. His 453 passing yards set the Texas A&M single-game record, besting any of the numbers first-round pick Ryan Tannehill ever put up for the Aggies. Manziel has a chance to earn some national Heisman credit against the Crimson Tide on Nov. 10.
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Dark Horse Contender: David Ash, QB, Texas
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
The potential New York spotlight dimmed considerably on Mr. Ash following the Longhorn’s 48-45 loss at home to Geno Smith and West Virginia. That said, this true sophomore’s time will come. Should he lead his Texas team through the rest of the Big 12 schedule unscathed, his time might come far more quickly than what many may have initially thought.
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Making a push: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE
Lattimore came into South Carolina as arguably the most high-profile recruit in school history. The 6-foot, 218 pound bruiser did not disappoint, averaging 5.8 yards per carry en route to nearly 1,200 yards as a diaper dandy. Unfortunately, shockwaves were sent through the Gamecock Nation midway through 2011 when Lattimore went down with an ACL tear, missing the remainder of the season. Lattimore has since returned to the field a little rusty, but has been slowly working back into form. He has broken the 100-yard barrier in each of his last two games, including a recent beat-down of then-No. 5 Georgia. His schedule will provide him the chance to show off his skills on national television, and should he continue to plow through defenders, fans will be watching him on national TV once again, and in New York.
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Making a push: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Lee’s quarterback, Matt Barkeley, has not exactly played his way out of Trophy talks, but his five interceptions have nearly matched the seven he posted on the entire 2011 season. Lee, of course, cannot throw interceptions, but he can catch touchdowns. His counterpart, junior Robert Woods, was supposed to be the Trojans receiver grabbing both headlines and passes. However, through the team’s first five games, it has been Lee making all the right moves. His lowest single-game receptions total this season is the eight catches for 100 yards he made in the team’s loss to Stanford. It was the Trojans’ only defeat on the season, and in each of the team’s four wins, Lee has caught at least ten passes. Lee is yet another true sophomore star making his case for New York before he can even drink.
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Making a push: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE
Very rarely are defensive players even awarded consideration. Yet, had this Hawaiian decided to stay on his beautiful island chain instead of heading to dreary, Midwestern South Bend, where the storied Notre Dame resides, the Irish would not be doing all the Fightin’ they have put together thus far in 2012. The Fighting Irish are 5-0 and in the Top-10 for the first time since your grandfather was rooting on the Four Horsemen, in large part due to the star power of a middle linebacker that came from the middle of the ocean. Te’o has recorded double-digit tackles in three of the team’s five games. He only recorded six in the team’s blowout of an opener against Navy in Ireland. Te’o had only eight tackles against Michigan, but he picked off Michigan quarterback – and former Heisman candidate, Denard Robinson, twice. He is the best player on one of the nation’s most resurgent teams, shouldn’t that warrant Heisman consideration?
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Making a push: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Free Gilly! After waiting three long years behind current Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Rainey and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jeff Demps, Florida’s breakout season under second-year coach Will Muschamp is largely due to the running, cutting and field vision of the senior Gillislee. The Gators are not only 5-0, but Muschamp and sophomore starting quarterback Jeff Driskel have leaned on Gilly more than ever to get there. Without Gillislee’s 112-second half rushing yards against then-No. 4 LSU, the Gators lose 6-0 instead of winning 14-6 on the power of Gilly’s two rushing touchdowns. Mike Gillislee boasts a championship-level work ethic and team-first mentality, as exemplified by his patience over the previous three seasons. Now, finally, Florida is a championship-caliber team and he is leading the way, possibly all the way to New York City.
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Heading to New York?: AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE
Last season, Mister Mac was seen by even the most casual ‘Bama fan as simply a game manager, meant not to screw things up too badly for its NFL-caliber defense and running game. However, without any of the pressure to win games using his arm, McCarron has begun to really blossom, gradually taking on a bigger role within the offense of the best team in college football right now. As of midseason, McCarron will have to do more to stack some of the numbers of his peers around the country, but there is something to be said for a 177.0 quarterback rating and zero interceptions for, again, the frontrunners for the BCS National Championship.
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Heading to New York?: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE
Remember when Florida’s Tim Tebow was the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman? Nowadays at least keeping the nation’s young gunners in contention throughout the season seems commonplace, as Thomas is the second true sophomore in Gamedayr’s Top-5. That said, keeping a man like Thomas, who at only 5-foot-9 and 173 pounds can seemingly do whatever he wants to do on a football field, off a list such as this would be absolutely criminal. Like a mob boss breaking thumbs, Thomas has broken quite a few ankles since arriving in Eugene before the start of the 2011 season. He scored a massive 18 touchdowns as a wide-eyed freshman and has piled up nine already in 2012. Should De’Anthony continue to run, catch and return his way to a pile of yards – including an average of 9.2 yards per rushing attempt – expect to see the youngest, smallest man ranked here, in New York next.
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Heading to New York?: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Scott Sewell-US PRESSWIRE
One of the grittiest, grimiest, grind-it-out guys to potentially make the trip to the bright lights of Broadway in quite some time. Klein has benefitted from the return of 72-year old coach Bill Snyder and together they have led a resurgence for the Wildcats in the smaller Manhattan of Kansas. Standing in at 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, Klein is a wrecking ball near the goal line, scoring three rushing touchdowns in the Wildcats’ beat down of once-proud Miami and rushing for another 79 yards and a score in the road upset win over Oklahoma State that put Klein on the potential road to the Heisman in the first place. K-State has navigated the first five games of its schedule successfully, but the Big 12 is the second-strongest conference this year, and the road only gets tougher from here. Should Klein find a way to tough it out rushing between the tackles and tossing touchdown passes the rest of the way, expect to see this grinder in a well-pressed suit in the bigger Manhattan.
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Heading to New York?: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
It will be interesting to see if Miller, only a true sophomore, can lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated season before taking the bowl season off. Ohio State is ineligible to play in the postseason due to various sanctions (this blogger is just sick of talking about which schools have committed which infractions, in all honesty), but Miller is not at all ineligible for postseason accolade. The fact that he kept his team playing hard in each and every game and led his team to a strong record might be more impressive at the end of the season than Miller’s numbers, although his stats are already staggering. Through six games, Braxton (what is the etymology there?) has piled up 1,060 passing yards and another 763 on the ground, good for a 7.2 rushing yards per attempt average. He already has eight rushing touchdowns after scoring seven on the ground a season ago, and he is on pace to surpass the 13 passing touchdowns of 2011 with nine to his credit in 2012 already. Can’t beat those numbers with a stick.
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Leader: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
James Lang-US PRESSWIRE
The initial set of BCS standings comes out next week, and the University of Alabama will undoubtedly be enjoying their spot at the top of the computerized dog pile. West Virginia will most likely find themselves somewhere in the mix within the Top-5, but if those same BCS computers came out with Heisman rankings of their own, West Virginia’s superstar quarterback would be the No. 1 without question. Smith has blown away opponents and fans alike with his pinpoint accuracy no matter the throw, as evidenced by his 24-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That, coupled with a QB rating of 202.4 (a number far too high for most Arkansas fans to even count to) should be more than enough to get Smith to New York. Whether his efforts are enough to push his Mountaineers past the Crimson Tide in the BCS Polls, however, is another story.
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