The Heisman Trophy is not just any old piece of hardware one jams into a cardboard box to collect dust in the basement. Earning the right to hoist college football’s most prestigious trophy jettisons a player into a different stratosphere of celebrity. As last year’s winner, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel can easily attest to that.
Being voted the Heisman winner at season’s end places one within a very select group of college football legends; players that have shaped Saturdays for generations of fans, coaches and teammates. Not all have gone on to professional-level success, but all have, at one point in time, dominated the football field like very few before them.
A new (or perhaps repeat) winner, will be named in 2013. Not a single person in the world knows who is going to emerge once the dust settles on the upcoming regular season, but we do have a very good idea as to what several individual players’ chances may be.
The players on this list are preparing to make their mark on the college football record books. All will play. Some will disappoint and fall from the ranks of Heisman hopefuls. Others will stand tall, compile big stats and lead their respective teams to one win after another. We cannot know which players will fall into which category as of yet, but this is who we believe should be seen as the favorites to take the Trophy back with them to campus.
Take a look at the list, at the stats, and at the reasons why the top 10 players ranked can either win it or lose it. Sound off in the comments section below with disagreements and debate – there is sure to be plenty of both.
Just Missed The Cut (in no particular order)
Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida Gators; James White, RB, Wisconsin Badgers, Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall Thundering Herd; Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers; Beau Blankenship, RB, Ohio Bobcats; LaDarius Perkins, RB, Mississippi State Bulldogs; Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide; Dri Archer, RB/WR/KR, Kent State Golden Flashes; Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State Bulldogs, David Fluellen, RB, Toledo Rockets; Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern Wildcats; David Ash, QB, Texas Longhorns; Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State Cowboys; Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland Terrapins.
Top 25 Contenders
25. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA Bruins
24. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska Cornhuskers
23. Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern Wildcats
22. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois Huskies
21. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford Cardinal
20. Stephen Morris, QB, Miami Hurricanes
19. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State Seminoles
18. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska Cornhuskers
17. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan Wolverines
16. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona Wildcats
15. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami Hurricanes
14. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA Bruins
13. Marqise Lee, WR, USC Trojans
12. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia Bulldogs
11. De’Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon Ducks
10. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide - 2012 Stats: 175 rush attempts; 1,108 rush yards, 131 rec. yards, 13 total TD
Why he’ll win it: Nick Saban had no choice but to put this elite talent on the field as a true freshman, despite the presence of workhorse Eddie Lacy. With Lacy off to the NFL, Yeldon will embrace the role of the go-to back. A massive year will put him next in line to achieve greatness following Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Lacy.
Why he won’t: This is senior quarterback A.J. McCarron’s team now. Saban will look to the passing game more than he ever has and Yeldon will not have the opportunity to crack the 1,300-plus yards it needs to garner Heisman attention at the position.
9. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson Tigers – 2012 Stats: 165.58 rating; 67.2 comp. %; 3,896 pass yards, 514 rush yards; 46 total TD; 13 INT
Why he’ll win it: Boyd will carry over the momentum from the huge Chick-fil-A Bowl win against LSU and lead Clemson to heights fans haven’t seen in over two decades, while putting up video game numbers in the ACC.
Why he won’t: He puts up a clanker in Week 1 against Georgia, everything he does the rest of the year is seen as infinitely “inferior” to SEC performances by the folks at ESPN and pretty much anyone below the Mason-Dixon line.
8. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor Bears – 2012 Stats: 131 rush attempts; 1,012 rush yards; 107 rec. yards; eight total TD
Why he’ll win it: Coach Art Briles is all about moving the sticks. With a first-year starter at quarterback in Bryce Petty, Briles feeds the strong and speedy Seastrunk enough to lead the nation in rushing yards.
Why he won’t: Petty emerges as the next in line to RGIII and Nick Florence as expected, Briles turns to the air-raid attack in order to compete against the rest of the warp-speed teams in the Big 12.
7. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Ducks - 2012 Stats: 163.23 rating; 68.5 comp. %; 2,677 pass yards; 752 rush yards; 37 total TD; six INT
Why he’ll win it: Oregon leans heavily upon the redshirt sophomore under first-year head coach Mark Helfrich. Mariota leads the Ducks to yet another BCS bowl berth en route to the Heisman recognition he deserves.
Why he won’t: Two ways. First, Mariota’s numbers cast aside as a product of fast-paced offense. Second, with so many other weapons on the roster, Helfrich does not need team-first Mariota to put up gaudy stats.
6. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia Bulldogs - 2012 Stats: 174.82 rating; 64.5 comp. %; 3,893 pass yards; -68 rush yards; 39 total TD; 10 INT
Why he’ll win it: Danny Wuerffel won it for Florida in 1996 after setting various SEC career passing marks and winning a national title. Murray is primed to make a run at both in 2013-14.
Why he won’t: Murray fails to three-peat as SEC East champion while fans watch running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall take on a larger role in the offense.
5. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama Crimson Tide - 2012 Stats: 175.28 rating; 67.2 comp. %; 2,933 pass yards; four rush yards; 31 total TD; three INT
Why he’ll win it: The back-to-back national title winning quarterback was also the nation’s most efficient with a 175.28 rating in 2012. If Braxton Miller can make the list based on team wins, team rings should put the Trophy in McCarron’s hands.
Why he won’t: Alabama’s wins will once again be chalked up to a historically great “team” and McCarron is relegated to “game manager” status as he rounds out his college career.
4. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville Cardinals – 2012 Stats: 160.49 rating; 68.5 comp. %; 3,718 pass yards; 26 rush yards; 28 total TD; eight INT
Why he’ll win it: Tough-as-nails Teddy remains as accurate as ever in leading his Cards to a perfect season in the program’s first and only year in the American Athletic Conference.
Why he won’t: Everyone forgets to watch any American Athletic Conference games and Bridgewater’s performances tumble into the oblivion of Louisville’s cakewalk schedule.
3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina Gamecocks – 2012 Stats: 54 total tackles; 23.5 TFL; 13.0 sacks; three FF
Why he’ll win it: Far and away the scariest player in college football, Jadeveon Clowney collects at least a sack per game en route to the Trophy and a few pelts of hunted-down quarterbacks.
Why he won’t: Some experts believe even 15-plus sacks won’t be enough to make Clowney the first exclusively defensive player to win the Heisman. It’s simply an offensively-inclined award.
2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes – 2012 Stats: 140.48 rating; 58.3 comp. %; 2,039 pass yards; 1,271 rush yards; 28 total TD; six INT
Why he’ll win it: After going 12-0 with a bare-bones understanding of coach Urban Meyer’s offense, Miller is ready to blow the world away both through the air and on the ground in 2013.
Why he won’t: Miller will not show the type of improvement in the passing game that was expected of him while failing to lead his team to a win over Michigan in The Game.
1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M Aggies – 2012 Stats: 155.32 rating; 68.0 comp. %; 3,706 pass yards; 1,410 rush yards; 47 total TD; nine INT
Why he’ll win it: Johnny Football burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman a year ago. With another full offseason of training under his belt and weapons galore at the skill positions and along the offensive line, he is set up perfectly to become the first player since Ohio State’s Archie Griffith in 1974 and 1975 to repeat as Heisman winner.
Why he won’t: Manziel surprised so many teams last year because there was no film on him. With much more time to study, the rest of the mighty SEC will be ready for him – that includes a ticked-off Alabama in Week 2.