10 College Football QBs Who Will Contend for 2013 Heisman Trophy

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJanuary 23, 2013

10 College Football QBs Who Will Contend for 2013 Heisman Trophy

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    Quarterbacks have won 11 of the last 13 Heisman trophies. While the award is supposed to be handed out to the most outstanding player in college football, it is hard for any other position to win it due to all of the attention these signal-callers receive.

    The quarterbacks get the majority of the credit and fame, and unless another position absolutely blows off the door on the competition, it will see another winner during the 2013 season.

    As we begin to prepare for spring ball and get ready for another wonderful season of college football, there are plenty of quarterbacks that could earn a trip to New York. The class includes seniors who could have bolted early for the NFL, young guys looking to make a splash and a quarterback that has already earned the most prestigious award in college football.

    Let's take a look at 10 quarterbacks who have the best chance to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

10. Keith Price, Washington

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Last season was an underachieving year for Washington, and Keith Price in particular. The offensive line was a major issue, but the Huskies return four of the five starters from a year ago.

    Price has shown his playmaking ability in the past, as he threw for 3,063 yards and 33 touchdowns back in 2011. When this guy actually has time to throw the football, he can absolutely light it up and produce at an extremely high level.

    Why He May Not Win It: Price had his chance to build off the momentum in the bowl victory over Baylor back in 2011. Due to a horrendous offensive line, he blew that opportunity and was eighth in the Pac-12 in overall quarterback rating. With other explosive offenses in the same conference, he has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to get in the race.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Poor 

9. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

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    What Is Working in His Favor: As he returns for his senior season, Logan Thomas is arguably the top quarterback prospect for the 2014 NFL draft. Due to all of the hype, there is a good chance you will hear his name mentioned quite often throughout the year.

    His dual-threat ability and size reminds many of Cam Newton, and when he plays to his potential, he is a human highlight reel. With not a lot of proven offensive players, Thomas is somebody who will be asked to make majority of the plays, which could lead to off-the-wall numbers.

    Why He May Not Win It: Thomas had all of the hype in the world heading into last season. Instead of performing well, he threw 16 interceptions to only 18 touchdowns. His decision-making and poor play played a big role in why the Hokies finished with a 7-6 record. Last year will be very hard to forget when it comes to many college football fans and voters.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Not good 

8. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Taylor Martinez does everything for the Nebraska offense. Not only did he throw for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, but he rushed for 1,019 yards and an extra 10 scores.

    Known for being mainly a running quarterback, Martinez improved his completion percentage last year to 62 percent, becoming one of the most improved players in 2012. With so much of the offense on his shoulders, Martinez can put up some terrific numbers and become the most effective player for Nebraska.

    Why He May Not Win It: Despite the great numbers and everything he does, he just doesn't have the personality that is needed to win the award. You don't hear a lot about him or anything that sets him apart from some of the other candidates. Martinez just goes about his job and receives little media attention along the way. He isn't that flashy player that can get the much-needed boost it would take to win the Heisman.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Unlikely 

7. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Did you see the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Florida Gators? Teddy Bridgewater completed 62.5 percent of his passes, threw for 266 yards and produced two touchdowns in the upset victory against a top-five defense.

    Now that he has your attention, Bridgewater will enter the 2013 season with a much bigger buzz than he had a year ago and should be ready to thrive. The quarterback who throws with a glove on his hand is about as accurate as they come. If he can shred an SEC defense like that, watch out, Big East.

    Why He May Not Win It: While Bridgewater has been great, there have been games where he has struggled, such as throwing two interceptions against Florida International. And speaking of poor teams, Louisville doesn't exactly have a difficult schedule. Every Heisman winner needs that breakout performance against a quality program, and Memphis just isn't going to cut it.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Possible 

6. AJ McCarron, Alabama

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Maybe you haven’t heard of him, but AJ McCarron is the quarterback for Alabama, the team that has won the last two national championships. Not only is he a three-time champion, but he was also the offensive MVP of last year’s title game.

    He also improved his play tremendously last season, throwing for 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns. With more weapons around him than ever before, McCarron could end up having his best season yet in 2013.

    Why He May Not Win It: Unfortunately, with the style of offense that Alabama plays, McCarron gets labeled as a system quarterback. He isn't asked to do much and hasn't really had that breakthrough moment where he has had to lead his team to victory.

    Although he has played well, the Crimson Tide still rely heavily on the running game and defense to win ball games. After all, his 314 pass attempts were ninth in the SEC last year.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Fair 

5. Tajh Boyd, Clemson

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Tajh Boyd has been arguably the best quarterback in the ACC the last two seasons, but never had that big moment to put him on the map nationally.

    He finally had it in Clemson's victory over the LSU Tigers, when he threw for 346 yards and scored two touchdowns against an elite SEC defense. This is somebody who has topped 3,800 passing yards and 30-plus touchdowns in each of the last two years. The numbers are there, and with the bowl game performance, the hype is soon to follow.

    Why He May Not Win It: Clemson has not been able to get over the hump as a team. In 2011, it lost three of the final five regular season games, and in 2012, losses to Florida State and South Carolina didn't help. The Tigers have improved as a program the last few years, but they need to take that next step before anybody starts taking them as serious as they would like.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Good 

4. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Marcus Mariota was another freshman phenomenon in 2012. While you were too caught up in the Johnny Manziel hoopla, Mariota was completing 68.5 percent of his passes and scoring 32 total touchdowns.

    Playing in the Ducks offense, this guy is going to put up crazy statistics, and he is easily the best quarterback the program has seen in a while. With a year under his belt and time for many to learn how to pronounce his name, Mariota is one of the biggest playmakers in all of college football. 

    Why He May Not Win It: Chip Kelly has left college football. With Mark Helfrich now as the head coach, it remains to be seen how this is going to affect the play-calling and if the offense is going to remain the same. The unknown is a scary place, and it could seriously hurt the Ducks' championship chances, as well as the Heisman odds for Mariota.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Above Average

3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Johnny Manziel is just coming off a season where he became the first freshman to win the Heisman. Until a defense learns how to figure this guy out, it appears the numbers should remain the same and he will be taking another trip to New York.

    There isn't anybody in college football that can take over a game the way Manziel can. And what makes things strange is that he plays as if he was on the playground, but everything still seems to work.

    With his national attention and track record on the field, good luck taking the hardware away from him.

    Why He May Not Win It: Archie Griffin is the only player to ever win the Heisman twice, and voters tend to shy away from players that have been blessed enough to already win one. Besides history not being on his side, you have to believe that SEC defensive coordinators are staying up late during the offseason to design a game plan on how to stop this guy. It's insane to think he will be that great in 2013.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Great 

2. Aaron Murray, Georgia

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    What Is Working in His Favor: If you thought Aaron Murray was great in 2011, he was even better last season, completing 64.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns (all of which are new career highs). Not only are his numbers absolutely insane for a quarterback playing in the SEC, but with a total of 10 starters returning from the Georgia offense, he could be playing on the best offense in the country.

    Murray could, in fact, be the best quarterback prospect for next year’s draft, and if he continues to put up those numbers, an SEC quarterback will win the award for the second straight season.

    Why He May Not Win It: Georgia has been historically bad against ranked teams over the years. Since the 2010 season, the Bulldogs are 4-10 against ranked opponents. This includes blowing a game against Alabama last season in the SEC championship. If Murray continues to fold in pressure situations, there is no way he going to win the Heisman next year.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Terrific 

1. Braxton Miller, Ohio State

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    What Is Working in His Favor: Braxton Miller will enter his second season in the spread offense under Urban Meyer. If it ends up being anything like his first, people should begin to take notice. The Ohio State quarterback threw for 2,039 yards, rushed for 1,271 yards and scored 28 total touchdowns.

    Once he has an entire offseason to understand the plays and really tweak a few things in his game, the sky is the limit for this young man.

    Oh, and he also happens to play for a Buckeyes team that went undefeated just a season ago.

    Why He May Not Win It: There is no doubt that Miller is the best playmaker in the Big Ten, and he already has the name to become a serious Heisman contender. The problem would be that his team took a hit on the defensive side of the ball and is missing more starters than any coaching staff should be comfortable with. If Ohio State can't piece together the defense, it could lose some games next season and cost Miller a chance to win the hardware.

    Odds He Ends up in NYC: Superb