The Heisman race for 2013 is already in full swing, but, unless something changes, Braxton Miller will be the next in line to take home the hardware. Heading into 2013, he is the leader of the pack for the coveted bronze trophy.
Last season, Miller took his team on an undefeated run that would have ended with a Big Ten title berth if not for NCAA sanctions hanging over the program.
This season, the Ohio State Buckeyes are sanction-free and ready to take on the Big Ten as a championship contender. Along the way, Miller will prove why he is the front-runner for the Heisman this season.
He put together a strong sophomore year under coach Meyer, going 148-of-254 for 2,039 yards, 15 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also rushed 227 times for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns (via CFBStats.com).
By the end of the year, he had become the most potent quarterback in the Big Ten and was guiding an offense that was as good as any in the last month of the season.
Who takes a sanctioned program on an undefeated run?
It was an unbelievable year that showed remarkable leadership and poise. It was a surprise when Miller didn’t receive an invitation to the Heisman ceremony in early December.
That will be rectified this fall.
With the return of Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall to the full-time lineup, this offense will be ticking around Miller.
He has solid receivers returning in Devin Smith and Corey Brown and will toss incoming freshman tight end Marcus Baugh into the lineup during passing downs.
With so much surrounding talent to throw to and run around with, it is hard to bet against Miller in the Heisman race.
The Buckeyes also return four of five starters along the offensive line, something that will help produce rushing lanes and time in the passing game for Miller to be selective and improve on his 58.3 completion percentage from a year ago (via CFBStats.com).
Heading into 2013, Johnny Manziel is a name to follow, but there are three reasons he won't repeat.
Manziel was able to come away with a lot of big plays thanks to star receiver Ryan Swope and left tackle Luke Joeckell holding off defenders in 2012. But both key players are gone, leaving Manziel vulnerable this year as he searches for new playmakers and a new tackle to guard his blind side.
There will also be a lot of SEC defensive eyes on Manziel that won't be focused on Braxton Miller.
He will also be under the guidance of a new offensive coordinator this fall, whereas Miller will be hitting his stride in the Meyer offense. The drop-off won't be that great, but it will be enough to make a difference.
Don't forget how much the voters hate to pick repeats. In 77 years of awarding winners, only one has repeated as the winner. It was Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (via Heisman Trust).
Expectations are much higher in 2013 than they were a year ago, as Miller returns a surrounding cast that should push for a national title.
Another undefeated run will bring home more than the crystal football to Columbus.
As Ohio State climbs back into the national discussion this season, Miller will become a front-runner in the first few weeks for the Heisman.
Right now, he should be the talk of college football as he preps for his second season under offensive mastermind Urban Meyer. Watch Miller closely this fall as he becomes the next great dual-threat quarterback to bring home the bronze from New York.