Yes, Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman in 2012, and yes, he is back for more in 2013. However, the young man does not have a monopoly on the hardware, nor does he have a monopoly on all the talent in college football.
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller passed for 2,039 yards and rushed for 1,271 more as a true sophomore. Most importantly, he helped lead his Buckeyes to a 12-0 record. Should he and his teammates repeat said performance, there may just be a certain Trophy in Mr. Miller’s future.
Jordan Lynch is another dual-threat superstar at quarterback. He set the single-season rushing record for a player at the position with 1,815 yards on the ground and is looking to lead Northern Illinois to another 12-win season. Lynch did it with his legs, while Rakeem Cato represented small schools everywhere with his arm. The pride of Marshall averaged more than 350 yards per game en route to 4,201 as a sophomore.
The Big East may be crumbling before our very eyes, but in Louisville’s final season in the conference, Teddy Bridgewater is poised to lead a charge towards another BCS bowl or even a national championship berth.
Tajh Boyd repp’ed it for the big boys by piling up a total of 46 touchdowns in his junior season at Clemson. Tigers fans are hoping his senior year is equally as huge. Georgia’s Aaron Murray, set to be a senior as well, is looking forward to setting several SEC records for the Bulldogs. The nation’s leader in passing efficiency in 2012, Alabama’s AJ McCarron, is yet another soon-to-be senior expecting huge things, and quite possibly looking forward to earning recognition as the nation’s top player.
Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey led the nation with 1,929 rushing yards while averaging an astounding 6.4 yards per carry. He amassed 23 touchdowns and will be a junior in 2013. In all likelihood, it will be his final year with the Wildcats before entering the NFL Draft, and the motivation to run roughshod in the Pac-12 will definitely be there.
However, the talent way out west is astounding, as always. De’Anthony Thomas is arguably the fastest player in the entire nation and he and quarterback Marcus Mariota are set to light the world on fire out at Oregon.
Marqise Lee managed to rise above the mess of Lane Kiffin’s coaching at USC to win the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver in 2012. He also garnered some serious Heisman love, and with his returning skills and a possible appearance at defensive back in 2013, Lee may just prove himself to be the nation’s top player.
But one defensive superstar will have something to say about all of this. Manti Te’o finished out his 2012 campaign as the Heisman Trophy runner-up while playing exclusively defense. Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina is looking to shatter that glass ceiling while shattering the dreams of opposing quarterbacks and running backs. The 6-foot-6, 256-pound Clowney set Gamecocks single-season records with 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for a loss in 2012.
While the nation’s top player is generally considered to be a quarterback or a running back, should Clowney be pushing something like 15 or more sacks, it will be impossible to keep him out of the conversation.
So we are not going to here.
However, you, the erstwhile member of Gamedayr Nation that you are, can keep him out, should you so desire. Is Clowney just clowning around in his desire to be known as the greatest in college football in 2013? Should a guy like Manziel get the love as the returning Heisman winner?
Should Miller and his 12-0 2012 get the credit, or Bridgewater’s orchestration of a blowout over Florida and its stout defense in the Sugar Bowl? Should Thomas get the love based purely on the type of speed that changes the outcomes of games in a matter of seconds?
We just do not know. But you might.