This year’s Heisman Trophy race will be wide-open from the start. I believe there will be at 10 guys who will have a legitimate claim on the honor throughout the season and even though a number of great running backs (Latimore, Ball) and wide receivers (Woods, Watson) would be great Heisman winners, this season will be the year of the quarterback. Here are my preseason Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates for this year.
As a sophomore Murray set the Georgia single season record for TD passes with 35 last year and 35 touchdowns in Mark Richt’s system is like 50 touchdowns in a rival offense. He will put up big numbers this year and if he can cut down on the turnovers he will be tough to ignore. Solid performances in prime matchups against South Carolina and Florida will go a long way to securing his candidacy, but a SEC title would lock up a Heisman ceremony invite.
It’s never easy replacing a Heisman winner (Bradford), but Jones has done a great job with the pressure that comes with being the QB of Oklahoma. He has averaged over 4,000 yards and 30 TDs per season for his 3 year career and would probably need to get closer to 40 TDs this season to be a Heisman contender. Oklahoma has the talent around him to help him with that and they should be in the top 5 at the end of the season. High profile games against Texas, Notre Dame and West Virginia will get him in the national spotlight. Can he hold up under the pressure of being a Heisman front runner?
Ask Andrew Luck how being the preseason Heisman favorite worked out for him. Barkley shocked many and decided to return for his senior year and immediately moved to the top of the Heisman favorite list. His USC Trojans will be ranked #1 until someone knocks them off, so that means each of Barkley’s games may be torn apart by analysts. He will need to improve on his PAC-12 record 39 touchdowns to contend, but the lack of a big time schedule may hurt him. History may hurt since Heisman winners rarely come from teams that are favored in every game. Oregon and Stanford will be his big time games.
Out of the blue Heisman winners have been the trend the last few years and Geno Smith is in the position to take the country by storm. He plays in an offense that will allow him to put up monster numbers and now that he is in the BIG12, he will be in the spotlight often. I think he will pass his 2011 numbers of 4,385 yds/31 TDs and will come into West Virginia’s game against Oklahoma at the top of the Heisman watch list and in position for a BIG 12 title.
The flashy Robinson has the moves, the nickname “Shoelace” and the schedule to win the Heisman trophy. He will put up even better numbers in his 2nd year in Brady Hoke’s offense and may even become Michigan’s all-time leading rusher. If he stays healthy and keeps showing up on Sportscenter, he will be very hard for the voters to ignore. Leading Michigan to a BIG10 title and big time games in the opener vs. Alabama and the marquee matchup vs. Ohio State could secure him the trophy.
I think that when it is all said and done, Denard Robinson will be the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.