SEC Football: Power Ranking Players with Best Shot at Winning Heisman Trophy
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Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell opened up spring practice with a bang—off the field as well as on it.
The sophomore, whose freshman season was riddled with suspensions, injuries and attitude issues, told the assembled media in Athens that he is "ready to make a run for the Heisman." That's a bold statement considering, with Keith Marshall already on campus, Crowell may not even have a job in 2012.
The quote did get us thinking about the top-five SEC players that have a shot at the Heisman Trophy. It should come as no shock that Crowell didn't make the cut.
5. Aaron Murray - QB, Georgia
Only a junior, Murray has established himself as one of the SEC's top quarterbacks. In 2011, he struggled with inconsistency, but his 35 touchdown passes still broke Matthew Stafford's single-season Georgia record.
Murray has weapons. Senior Tavarres King emerged as a go-to target at the Outback Bowl, and assuming sophomore Malcolm Mitchell meets his recruiting hype, he serves as a viable threat as well.
Above all else, the Heisman Trophy is a team award, and considering the schedule that Georgia has, we should be talking about the Bulldogs in the BCS mix. That will help Murray's case.
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4. Tyrann Mathieu - DB, LSU
The "Honey Badger" was all the rage last season, and he rode that wave of momentum all the way to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York City.
Funny thing, though—he wasn't even the best defensive back on his own team. That title belonged to Morris Claiborne.
Mathieu will still make plays on special teams, but opposing quarterbacks won't throw in his direction now that he's No. 1 on the depth chart. The hype will help, but he will need some cooperation from the competition to get back in the thick of the discussion.
3. Tyler Wilson - QB, Arkansas
Wilson established himself as the conference's best quarterback last season, and did so with little-to-no help from his offensive line. His first season as a starter was spectacular, as he completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Wilson lost his three top receivers from a year ago, but Cobi Hamilton is back, and running back Knile Davis should take some of the defensive attention off of the passing game.
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2. Knile Davis - RB, Arkansas
People forget just how good Davis was in 2010.
When he took over midway through the season, Arkansas' offense kicked into overdrive. Davis led all SEC running backs in rushing in 2010—a list that included Mark Ingram, Marcus Lattimore, Derrick Locke and Stevan Ridley.
With Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs all gone, the Hogs will rely more on the running game this season, which should put Davis near the top of Heisman ballots. One big concern is whether or not he will split votes with his teammate, Tyler Wilson.
1. Marcus Lattimore - RB, South Carolina
Lattimore tore his knee up midway through the 2011 season, but South Carolina didn't let that slow down its momentum.
The Gamecocks only lost once without Lattimore in the lineup. The experience Connor Shaw, Ace Sanders and the rest of the offense gained without Lattimore should translate into more opportunities now that Lattimore is back. South Carolina will be in the BCS hunt, and that spotlight will certainly help his case.
Just missed the cut: Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and Missouri quarterback James Franklin
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