If you're looking for a guy—who's not Matt Barkley, Landry Jones or Montee Ball—to predict as the winner of this year's Heisman, look no further than Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech. Sure, Matt Barkley is the rightful favorite to win the Heisman. He is to 2012 college football what Andrew Luck was in 2010 and 2011, the incumbent who has won the award before the season starts in most folks' eyes.
However, it would behoove you to also remember that Luck ended his career with no Heisman, and it wasn't because the guy didn't go out and play lights out football. He ended up Heisman-less because two extraordinary players rose up and snatched the trophy out of his hands before he could claim what seemed to be preordained in the preseason.
First, it was Cam Newton, who led the Auburn Tigers on a storybook run through the SEC and to a national title. Then, it was Robert Griffin III, who dazzled people with his arm and legs to grab the Heisman for Baylor, after a 9-3 regular season.
When you look around the nation, certainly the new kid on the block, Oregon's Marcus Mariota, appears to be poised for a run at greatness. Denard Robinson is everyone's favorite, despite his lack of growth in the passing game. Collin Klein has been a popular dark horse.
However, Logan Thomas is "the guy" when it comes to who can make that Cam Newton/RG3-type rise to steal the Heisman. After a season in which he threw for over 3,000 yards, put up 469 yards on the ground, ran for 11 touchdowns and posted a 19:10 touchdown to interception ratio, Thomas is ready for more.
Physically, the quarterback has the frame and skills to improve mightily. Last year, Thomas was just finding his way. This season, he is the centerpiece of the Hokies offense. Expect his rushing numbers to increase as he enters the season as Virginia Tech's best option to move the ball on the ground. Through the air his yardage is already impressive; he simply needs to throw more touchdowns. As he becomes more a run threat, look for safeties to suck up to the line and give him the opportunity to do just that.
One thing we all know, another component to the Heisman is team performance, and the Hokies are set up to have Thomas in position to win the stiff-arming trophy. The defense is stout and will give him plenty of chances to make the offense work. He has a true talent at wide receiver in Marcus Davis. Most importantly, Va Tech's schedule is begging for Frank Beamer's team to be undefeated when the Florida State Seminoles pull into town for a prime time, Thursday night matchup in November.
Both teams could enter that game undefeated and/or highly ranked and that's how you get a Heisman moment. Ask RG3 about shredding Oklahoma or Cam Newton about his magical run against LSU or the comeback against Alabama. Heisman moments matter, and Logan Thomas certainly would have a shot to get his if the FSU game is as big as it could be.
In August, Matt Barkley has the Heisman waiting for him at the end of the season. All the USC senior quarterback has to do is go out and play ball the way he has done for every year for the Trojans. It will take a monumental effort for someone to wrestle that trophy from his grasp, and Logan Thomas is the guy best positioned to do just that.