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Home | Sports |

2012 Heisman Trophy watch list from a fan’s perspective, final rankings


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The anticipation is killing us!

The anticipation is killing us!
Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, December 8, 928 votes will be cast in an effort to award the Heisman Memorial Trophy to the college football player who proved most valuable throughout the 2012 college football season.

The votes are broken down into members of the media, who are currently allocated 870 votes spread throughout 145 different media markets nationwide, past Heisman winners, 57 presently, and one fan vote.

Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive players have all stated their case for the coveted Trophy. Now that the regular season and conference championship games have been played, the sports media and former winners can sit back, relax and tabulate who might be the most deserving.

Only the best of the very best of whom we have seen this year will be considered, of course, but who are they, and who is the favorite for the Trophy?

Take an early peek at who has a chance, and who is expected to be looking sharp in New York City on Saturday.

Some may believe there is a clear frontrunner, but the field remains crowded nonetheless.

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Has a chance: Marqise Lee, WR, USC Trojans

Has a chance: Marqise Lee, WR, USC Trojans
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

His team has been left for dead after tumbling from the national preseason No. 1 to far out of the rankings altogether. However, Lee has been nominated for the Walter Camp Award, also presented to the nation's top player. Thus, voting members of the media have shown that they are willing to overlook both his team's poor performance and his position at wide receiver in deference to Lee's spectacular numbers.

No reason the Heisman Trophy voters won't do the same. Especially considering his 112 receptions leads the nation and his 1,680 yards sit second.

He is also a spectacular kick returner, and in order to bolster his Trophy hopes in the future, the sophomore may end up lining up at defensive back, as well as at wideout, in the future.

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Has a chance: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin Badgers

Has a chance: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Ball's five-loss Wisconsin squad got a lucky slot in the Big Ten Championship game since both Ohio State and Penn State were deemed ineligible prior to the season kicking off.

However, once there, this roller-coaster of a football team made the most of their matchup against then-No. 12 Nebraska, thrashing the Huskers to the tune of a 70-31 victory.

Ball himself finally posted the type of big-time, signature performance that got him to New York as a Heisman finalist in 2011, rushing for 202 yards on 21 carries and three scores.

The spectacular performance against the Huskers' Blackshirt defense put him at third in the nation with 1,730 on the season to go along with 21 touchdowns.

The most prolific scorer in the history of college football deserves another look from Trophy voters after both he and his team had been left for dead earlier in the season. Especially now that his team is officially Rose Bowl-bound.

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Has a chance: Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois Huskies

Has a chance: Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Lynch has almost single-handedly carried the Huskies from the obscurity of a mid-major conference and into the national consciousness as far more than simply a dual-threat, but rather a dual-superstar.

Lynch broke every quarterback rushing record in the books in leading the nation with 1,771 yards on the ground in 2012. His nationally leading rushing yardage includes running backs as well.

Northern Illinois is not 12-1 without him. After losing to Iowa 18-17 in Week 1, it has been smooth sailing ever since, including a not-so-smooth overtime win over fellow 11-1 Kent State in the MAC Championship Game.

With a bowl game still to be played, Lynch has already surpassed former Mizzou star Brad Smith's single-season rushing record and he has a chance to surpass 3,000 passing yards as well; he currently sits at 2,962 on the year.

An invite for Lynch would not only be well-deserved, but it would prove to be a coup for relatively small-time programs everywhere.

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Heading to NYC? Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon Ducks

Heading to NYC? Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon Ducks
Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

Barner, way out in the Pacific Northwest and running alongside fellow star De'Anthony Thomas, burst into the spotlight himself following a 321-yard, five touchdown performance in Hollywood against USC.

However, the senior struggled a bit following the 39-carry outburst before finally getting back on track in the Ducks' season finale. Against an Oregon State squad that had shocked the nation in not finishing dead last in 2012, Barner put the Beavers in their place in the Civil War.

Despite not having the benefit of a conference championship game, Barner's 1,624 yards are good for seventh in the nation, and he sat out the second half of several games due to blowouts. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry on 248 rush attempts, good for 16th in the nation, but no one ahead of him on the list attempted more than 184 carries.

The dude can run the football, and in leading his Ducks to a stellar 11-1 record, he should be expecting his invite to New York City any day now.

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Heading to NYC? AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama Crimson Tide

Heading to NYC? AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama Crimson Tide
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

All season long, McCarron's potential Heisman candidacy was seen as more of a vote for the nation's most powerful team than one for McCarron himself.

Thus, when Bama's BCS hopes were derailed in the squad's loss to Texas A&M, so were McCarron's Trophy hopes in throwing his first two interceptions on the season.

However, the leader of the defending national champions has gotten his squad back to the promised land, and he has done so as his usual, efficient self.

His 173.1 passer rating winds up as the best in the nation, ahead of Georgia's Aaron Murray, whom McCarron outplayed to win the SEC Championship in the Georgia Dome. McCarron has also put together career highs in yardage (2,669), touchdown passes (26) and a career low in interceptions (3).

Now that Bama is back in the BCS National Championship Game, McCarron is back in the Heisman conversation. However, he may still be squeezed out by the student-athletes with far stronger individual numbers than he had compiled.

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Heading to NYC? Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes

Heading to NYC? Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

Miller has been in the Heisman conversation all season long. Now that his Buckeyes' 12-0 season has come to an end, that is no reason to stop talking about Miller now.

Ohio State cannot play in a bowl game due to sanctions for rules violated before the sophomore came aboard, but OSU managed to put together its first undefeated, untied season since 2002, thanks largely to the heroics of their quarterback.

Without much of a receiving corps or running game, Miller took the onus upon himself, passing for 2,039 yards and rushing for another 1,271. He did all of it in spite of the fact that everyone in the building each and every weekend knew that Miller would be doing everything on the football field for first year coach Urban Meyer.

He did all of it because he simply could not be stopped. Twelve straight times.

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Heading to NYC? Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State Wildcats

Heading to NYC? Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State Wildcats
Scott Sewell-US PRESSWIRE

Career highs in every major statistical passing category? Check.

An 11-1 finish complete with a Big 12 Championship and BCS Bowl berth? Double Check.

Making good on preseason hopes for an invite to New York City? Well, probably a check.

The Heisman Trophy is supposed to be awarded not simply to the best player on the nation's best team, or to the guy with the most gaudy statistics, but rather to the young man who best exemplifies superb ability on the field and stellar citizenry off of it.

Klein is the heart and soul of one of the nation's best teams, and his 37 total touchdowns don't hurt either.

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Heading to NYC? Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

Heading to NYC? Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Remember that whole statement regarding Collin Klein, that the Trophy is not always presented to the best player on the nation's best team? Well, throw all that out the window with regards to Te'o.

It so exceedingly difficult to win the Heisman as a defensive player that Charles Woodson, Michigan's all-everything defensive back, is the only defensive focused player to win the award when he was presented with the Trophy back in 1997.

Thus, while the odds may be stacked against Te'o, ask a few of the running backs he has mauled and some of the quarterbacks he has intercepted who they think should win the award. Te'o has broken the 100-tackle barrier in three consecutive seasons, and his seven interceptions in 2012 are both third in the entire nation and a Notre Dame all-time record among school linebackers.

If there was ever a heart and soul vote for a player that was not Collin Klein, it would be Te'o, who's team is headed to the BCS National Championship game without much by the way of offensive contributions all season long.

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Frontrunner: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M Aggies

Frontrunner: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M Aggies
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Johnny Football has done it all for the shockingly great Texas A&M Aggies in 2012.

Picked to finish fifth in their division in the program's first season in the SEC, instead Manziel led the Aggies to a 10-win regular season for the first time since 1998.

In process, he has broken single-game records, single-season records, school records, conference records, and freshman records.

Most notably, his 4,600 combined yards rushing and passing are most in the history of the SEC. That means more than Tim Tebow in 2007 and Cam Newton in 2010, who both won the Heisman in those years.

It merely remains to be seen as to whether or not voters are willing to vote a freshman the Trophy winner over upperclassmen like Te'o, Klein, McCarron, Barner, Ball and Lynch.

The field is crowded, but the time has come to present a freshman the Trophy.

The time has come to continue to build the Legend of Johnny Football.

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