Heisman Watch 2013: Sleeper Candidates Who Will Push Favorites

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2013

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 19: Lache Seastrunk #25 of the Baylor Bears celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Iowa State Cyclones on October 19, 2013 at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

While the likes of Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel are rising to the top of the Heisman watch lists, there are a few other players who are putting up big-time numbers and should have their name mentioned among those three quarterbacks. 

Here is a look at four sleeper candidates that could potentially push the Heisman favorites during the stretch run of the college football season. 


Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor

Lache Seastrunk has been one of two stars, the other being quarterback Bryce Petty, driving the Baylor Bears offense this season.

Baylor has scored over 69 points in all but one of their games this season, the lone low-scoring performance came in a 35-25 win over Kansas State. 

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In his seven games this season, the junior running back has averaged 9.2 yards per carry while scoring 10 touchdowns. 

The one knock on Seastrunk right now is that he has compiled these numbers against below-par competition.

He will have a chance to knock off that criticism in the upcoming weeks as Baylor faces No. 15 Oklahoma, No. 10 Texas Tech and No. 19 Oklahoma State. 

If Seastrunk and the Bears can survive all three of those crucial Big 12 match-ups, then his Heisman candidacy will be taken seriously.


Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State

In seven games this season for the Oregon State Beavers, junior quarterback Sean Mannion has thrown for just under 3,000 yards. 

Mannion and the Beavers should be sitting at 7-0 heading into their showdown at home with No. 6 Stanford on Saturday, but they slipped up in their first game of the season. They lost to Eastern Washington 49-46 at home. 

Mannion has not let the loss from the opening week of the season hurt his potential Heisman campaign: he has thrown at least 360 yards in every game he has played. 

The junior from Pleasanton, CA is currently seen as a outsider in the Heisman race, but if he delivers a spectacular performance against Stanford, he could insert his name into the discussion for the illustrious trophy. 

If Mannion can find a way past the Cardinal at home, he will have to navigate a tricky Pac-12 schedule that ends with a trip to Eugene to play No. 3 Oregon in the Civil War Game on November 29. 


A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

Alabama senior quarterback A.J. McCarron has flown under the radar this season, and there is a reason for the lack of hype surrounding the Crimson Tide signal caller. 

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McCarron has thrown over 300 yards in just two games against Texas A&M and Kentucky, and in his other five games, his play has been nothing to write home about. 

Unfortunately for McCarron's Heisman hopes, he does not have many marquee games left to prove that he is worth winning the award. 

Only two ranked teams, No. 13 LSU and No. 11 Auburn, remain on the Crimson Tide's schedule along with Tennessee, Mississippi State and Chattanooga. 

With a lackluster schedule in front of him, McCarron will have to put up astronomical numbers to ensure that his name is relevant in the Heisman discussion.


Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Here is your obligatory dark-horse Heisman candidate. 

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, younger brother of former No. 1 NFL Draft pick David Carr, has guided the Bulldogs to a 6-0 record to open the season. 

Carr's Heisman campaign almost did not happen. The Bulldogs barely slipped past Rutgers, winning 52-51 in overtime in their first game of the season.

Since then, Carr has led the Bulldogs to five more victories, and he has thrown for over 400 yards in three of those games. 

For Carr's name to even be remotely considered for the Heisman in December, he will have to lead the Bulldogs to an undefeated season in the Mountain West and put up Baylor-like numbers in the major offensive statistical categories.