For the second consecutive year, a (redshirt) freshman took home college football’s most prestigious individual award in 2013. Florida State’s Jameis Winston hoisted the Heisman Trophy before leading his team to the BCS National Championship. Can Winston repeat his success in 2014, or will another player rise to the occasion? There has only been one two-time winner in college football history: Ohio State’s Archie Griffin.
With plenty of offseason to ponder how next year’s race will unfold, let’s take a look at one player from each conference who will likely enter the season as a frontrunner to win the Heisman.
Frontrunner: Jameis Winston, FSU QB
Winston is not only the frontrunner for the ACC, but the entire nation. When it comes to the competition, his path to New York in 2014 may even be easier than in 2013. Winston is the only returning Heisman finalist from last season. Barring disaster, such as an injury, you can almost ink his ticket to New York City now. As far as winning the award, history is working against him.
Keep an eye on: Duke Johnson, Miami RB
Frontrunner: Bryce Petty, Baylor QB
Any quarterback leading Art Briles’ high-powered offensive attack has to be considered in the preseason Heisman race. Bryce Petty’s decision to return for another year in Waco, TX will place him among the early favorites to win the trophy. His top target, wide receiver Antwan Goodley, will also be returning. Expect even bigger numbers from Petty in 2014.
Keep an eye on: Jonathan Gray, Texas RB
Frontrunner: Braxton Miller, Ohio State QB
When it comes to the Big Ten, it really starts and ends with Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. If it weren’t for injury, he would have likely made a trip to New York for this past season’s Heisman Trophy presentation. Miller should only improve in the offseason, and the Buckeyes will be one of the early favorites to make the first College Football Playoff.
Keep an eye on: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin RB
Frontrunner: Marcus Mariota, Oregon QB
Much like Braxton Miller and Bryce Petty’s decisions to return to college for another year, Marcus Mariota turned down the NFL draft for another season in Eugene. Also like Miller and Petty, Mariota can get the job done on the ground and through the air in his team’s wide-open offense. Oregon will enter the season as the favorite to win the Pac-12, and will likely be one of a handful of teams in the hunt for the College Football Playoff neat season. If the Ducks win, Mariota will put up numbers worthy of a trip to New York City.
Keep an eye on: Myles Jack UCLA LB/RB
Frontrunner: Todd Gurley, Georgia RB
For the first time in a while, the SEC’s Heisman race is really up in the air. For now I’ll lean towards arguably the best running back in the country: Georgia’s Todd Gurley. With Aaron Murray off to the NFL, expect Gurley to receive even more of a workload next season. He’s big and he’s bad.
Keep an eye on: Leonard Fournette, LSU RB (Freshman)