College Football: Early Preseason Heisman Watch

Nicholas HeidelbergerCorrespondent IJune 12, 2008

In my world, the college football season unofficially begins the day after the national championship game in January.  It officially begins the day after the Pistons' playoff run ends. 

So in my world, the preseason Heisman watch is a bit overdue.  In most people’s worlds, however, it's still early. 

Here are a few players who should be in the thick of the Heisman debate when college football officially officially begins in August.


Noel Devine (RB): West Virginia

Chew on this—Devine put up 136 yards against Maryland in his third career game as a freshman.  Not bad.  Oh yeah, he did it on five carries—insane.

Devine averaged 8.6 yards per carry in his freshman campaign as a backup to Steve Slaton.

He does things on the football field that we mortals can only do with an XBox controller in hand.

Expect nothing less than mind-blowing numbers—and highlights—from Devine this year, as he will be the showcase back in West Virginia's offense.


Michael Crabtree (WR)/Graham Harrell (QB): Texas Tech

Crabtree led the NCAA in receiving yards as a freshman with 1,962 last year.  Harrell led the NCAA in passing yards with 5,705.

To put that in perspective—Tulsa's Paul Smith was the only other passer to throw for over 5,000 yards last year with 5,065.

The nation’s third best passer, Matt Ryan, was still 1,200 yards short of Harrell's mark, with 4,507 passing yards. 

These two are a lethal tandem, as they proved last year when they upset Oklahoma in the season finale.  Heisman-type numbers should be expected from both players.

However, the fact that each player will take away votes from the other makes it unlikely that either will bring home the hardware. 


Chris Wells (RB): Ohio State

Wells, a power runner, returns for his junior season after averaging 5.9 yards per carry as a sophomore for an Ohio State team that has been national runner-up each of the last two seasons. 

Wells should be the focal point of the Buckeye's offense in 2008.  In the 2007 season finale against Michigan, he ran for 222 yards on 39 carries—finishing the season with 1,609 rushing yards.

Expect Ohio State coach Jim "sweater-vest" Tressel to put the ball in Wells’ hands about 25 times per game.  The rest is up to Wells.


Tim Tebow (QB): Florida

It's always interesting when the reigning Heisman trophy winner returns the following season.  Only Archie Griffin has won multiple Heisman trophies.   I'm not betting the farm on that changing this year.

Remember, if Oregon QB Dennis Dixon doesn't tear his ACL late in the season, he's the likely 2007 Heisman recipient.  After that injury, the trophy seemed up for grabs.

That said, Tebow definitely deserved the statue. He became the first player in NCAA history to run (23) and throw (32) for 20-plus touchdowns in a single season, finishing the year with 3,286 yards passing and another 895 on the ground. 

Tebow will be tough to defend in 2008, as he tries to become the second player to win the Heisman trophy—twice.