Is the Face of the 2009 Heisman Trophy a Forgone Conclusion?

Mitch Wilson@sportschatplaceSenior Writer IApril 8, 2009

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 09:  The Heisman Trophy was presented to Troy Smith of Ohio State University on December 9, 2006 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

With two former Heisman Trophy winners playing in college football this year and another player whom many felt deserved the award last year back on the field, the front runners and favorites are all set for the 2009 Heisman Trophy.

Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Colt McCoy have earned every bit of respect and hype they are getting and will continue to get, history has taught us maybe they shouldn't be making dinner reservations at their favorite New York hot spots just yet.

In the history of the Heisman, exactly one player has won it twice, Archie Griffin. For Tebow or Bradford to join Archie, they are not just going to have to outplay each other, there are a lot of other great players around the country set to give it their best effort.

What about a well seasoned Colt McCoy?

It's time to look at some of the other top notch talent around the country who know how to steal a show, and might just end up stealing a trip to New York, earning some deserved hardware.

Jahvid Best, RB, California

Jahvid Best set the world on fire last season as he's a threat to take it to the house any time the ball gets into his hands.

Best sported an 8.1 yard per carry average, ran for 1,580 yards, had 15 rushing touchdowns, and did all of this despite missing a game and only getting more than 20 carries once.

To really catapult himself into the spotlight, Best is going to have to have the big games against the big-time opponents in nationally televised games.

Jahvid will have his chance when the Bears take on USC, which could decide the Pac-10 and have possible BCS implications.

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

In 2007, Noel Devine arrived on the scene in Morgantown like a flash of lightning.

Devine ripped off run after run seemingly everytime he got a chance to spell then starter Steve Slaton. When Devine took over last year as the full time starter, most expected huge things and while 1,289 yards could hardly been seen as a poor year, it was almost a let down for what many felt they would be seeing from Devine.

Devine showed flashes of what everyone expected running for 207 yards against Auburn and 188 against Syracuse in back-to-back weeks. Whether it was the coaching change at WVU or if he was being keyed on, he only found the end zone four times.

This is Devine's team and offense now and with Bill Stewart heading into his second year as head coach, most will see a more comfortable Devine. If he can put together enough 200 yard games to flirt with a big total, he will surely have to get some year end consideration.

With most of the upper echelon stars like LeSean McCoy gone from the Big East, Devine should get plenty of media attention.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

"The Quizz" arrived on the scene last season in grand style, as his explosion on National television against USC catapulted him into the limelight and into the vocabulary of college football fans all across America.

Rodgers' Oregon State team fell a little short of the Rose Bowl berth, many felt it was because Rodgers was sidelined with an injury during the Beavers "Civil War" with Oregon where the Beavers fell and lost the conference title.

If Rodgers has an edge, it's that most college football watchers will remember him from last season's USC game and from the run his young Beavers went on afterwards.

His name may not be on the tip of everyone's tongue when talking elite, it will only take one big game until the media starts reminding everyone just who "the Quizz" is, and what he has already accomplished on the field in just one year at the college level.

Chris Brown, RB, Oklahoma

While Sam Bradford garnered all of the media attention and took home the Heisman last year, Chris Brown somehow remained under the radar even while running for 1,220 yards and 20 touchdowns.

No that's no typo, those are monster numbers for a guy who basically shared time with Demarco Murray and whose quarterback managed to light up the stats with such regularity he beat out a previous Heisman winner whose team went on to win the National Title and a quarterback who rarely didn't complete a ball he threw.

Teams will be keying on stopping Bradford once again and this should allow the bruising Brown to have another big year. Also working in Brown's favor are a plethora of big TV games both in and out of conference, so he'll be in our living rooms all season long.

While it is going to take a special effort to outshine Bradford, coach Stoops will get the ball to the player who is going to be most effective. With defenses thinking pass, Brown may just be the logical option.

Joe McKnight, RB, USC

McKnight is a dark horse, as he'll still be sharing time in one of the greatest committees of running backs ever assembled. Pete Carroll has no shortage of speed or talent in his backfield and with a first-year starter under center he'll be looking to let his horses carry the load.

Of all of the USC RBs, McKnight came in the most highly regarded and I know if I had my pick of the bunch it would be McKnight. Aside from just being USC, which for the past 10 years has meant being in the National Title hunt, the Trojans have a bunch of high profile games that all of the team will be able to show their talent to the world.

Primarily this should happen in the games against Ohio State and Notre Dame.

John Clay, RB, Wisconsin

I'm sure there are some people out there wondering why I have John Clay on this list. I can assure you, if the Badgers have a season anything like last season, Clay will be less than an after thought by Heisman voters, no matter what kind of season he has.

Clay actually has a lot working for him this season that could get him the kind of focus and attention it takes to be in the Heisman mix.

Clay's situation of "running back by committee" is resolved and he should be carrying the load this season. Along with getting the attention in Madison, most of the Big Ten stars at running back—Javon Ringer, Shonn Greene, Beanie Wells, and P.J. Hill are all eligible for the NFL Draft later this month.

If the Badgers make a run at the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl, Clay will be a big part of the equation. With the media coverage the conference gets, Clay can easily become a household name.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

The expectations have been sky high for C.J. Spiller since before he ever set foot on a college campus. The speedster is a threat to break a long one at any time and has spent a good part of his college career thus far on special teams.

Spiller is the only one on this list whose stats have been going in reverse since his freshman year, but he has been sharing time with a very talented player.

Despite the receding statistics, most are surprised Spiller is still part of the college game and hasn't opted for the NFL before this point. Perhaps he wants a chance to show what he can do full-time as an every down back, although I think NFL scouts know he has more than what it takes to play at the next level.

Clemson is starving for a winner and if Spiller gives the Tigers their first ACC title in a very long time, he will be a media darling.

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

Many will probably dismiss the notion Jimmy Clausen can win this year's Heisman Trophy, This makes perfect sense on so many levels.

Clausen hasn't always shown it, yet he does possess all of the tools and there is good reason he was the highest rated player coming out of high school.

While I can be as tough a critic as anyone, what we have to remember is Clausen started early. During a time when many quarterbacks would be red-shirting, riding the bench, and learning from an upper-classman starter, Clausen was performing (or trying to) on the field.

Clausen has experience and should be very comfortable with Charlie Weis's system. I think we saw glimpses of it throughout the year last season. He looked his best in their bowl win in Hawaii.

Jimmy Clausen also has the best set of receivers he has had to work with probably in his entire life. Aside from the upgrade in surrounding talent, he plays a fairly soft schedule and gets more prime viewing television time than any other starting quarterback in the country.

If the Irish can capitalize on the soft schedule and make their biggest game against USC a meaningful one, Clausen will have chances to endear himself to the voters.

If Clausen is going to make any kind of Heisman run, he is going to need to drastically reduce the number of interceptions and sacks.

Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State

Zac Robinson was outstanding last year and an argument could be made that if his Cowboys win a few more key games, he makes at least the trip to New York last year.

Oklahoma State didn't get it done in the end against some of the better teams in the Big 12, they at least played well enough that they had the opportunity to play in some meaningful games.

Robinson's 25 touchdown and 10 interceptions in 2008 shows he has the talent to do what it takes to win the Heisman Trophy.

For better or worse, the voters usually go for a player who plays on a great team and because he plays in the same conference with two of the front runners, a great season will include beating both of the guys teams he is up against.

While beating Texas and Oklahoma is a tall feat, it isn't impossible.

Max Hall, QB, BYU

I think a lot of the press his Cougar's didn't live up to last season may work against Max Hall this year. Any of the players on this list have their work cut out for them, but for Hall it may even be tougher.

It seemed every time Halls' Cougars were tested to show they were capable of playing at the next level, they floundered and wound up losing. Some people took this as Hall not being able to get the job done.

The reality of it is Hall and BYU lost three games last season including their bowl loss to Arizona, unfortunately, those losses—TCU, Utah, and Arizona—were the three biggest games on the schedule.

While stats are important in winning a Heisman, and Hall is certain to rack up some numbers, winning big time, memorable games is even more important, and Hall has not proved he can do it.

Will it be one of the big three, or will it be one of these 10?

It can easily be a new name who lights the college football world on fire.

It's a long time between now and the Heisman Award Ceremony in December and there is an entire season to determine the best player in America.

One thing is for certain, we're all going to enjoy watching the race unfold.

Visit Mitch anytime at his sites The Sports Chat Place and The College Football Place



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