Top 10 Heisman Candidates for 2010
After the closest Heisman voting in the 75 year history of the award, Mark Ingram of Alabama walked away with the trophy, beating out two quarterbacks, another running back, and an absolute beast of a defensive tackle.
Ingram is a sophomore, so we'll likely get to enjoy his dominating running performances some more next year. But all the other finalists are seniors, so we'll certainly be looking at a nearly completely new slate of finalists next year.
Who might be on the podium come December 2010? Let's take a look and see who's already standing out for next season (I did not include players that have declared or are most likely to enter the NFL draft). In no particular order the candidates are...
Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh
As only a freshman, Lewis finished the year third in the nation in total rushing yards. Only in three games this season did he fail to reach 100 yards rushing.
Six times, Lewis had over 150 yards rushing in a game. In the season-ending battle with Cincinnati, in a game that became a de facto Big East title game, Lewis ran 47 times for an astounding 194 yards and three touchdowns.
The biggest stat for Lewis, however, is the fact that he didn't fumble once the entire year despite touching the ball at least 20 times a contest.
Look for him to rattle Big East defenses again next year in hopes of being the fourth consecutive sophomore to win the Heisman.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
A transfer from Michigan, Mallett is proving why the big boys of college football wanted him to begin with.
He finished the 2009 season ranked 7th nationally in total passing yards (3,425) and tied for 2nd in the nation in yards per attempt (9.3).
Mallett even had some SEC coaches thinking he may be the best pure QB in the league and not Tim Tebow.
If Mallett has a similar year next year in what is expected to be somewhat of a down year for QBs nation wide, then you can expect to see this Razorback in NYC.
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Ok, let's get the obvious out of the way here. As a sophomore, Ingram will be back next year to play football for the Tide, and chances are he'll run all over the field again.
He didn't lead the nation in rush yards (he was 4th) but he did run for over 1,500 yards against an SEC schedule with some of the toughest defenses in the nation.
In fact, it was against the tougher defenses he had his better games, running for 150 yards against Virginia Tech, 113 yards and 3 touchdowns against Florida, and a record 246 yards against South Carolina.
The only question about next year may be how much time will he share with Trent Richardson, another outstanding runner in the Alabama backfield?
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Locker is one of the most intriguing QBs in the nation. He comes as a dual threat QB, one who is dangerous with his feet if he can't find a passing lane.
However, he'll need to polish his throwing skills some before he can enter Heisman talk.
He had a better completion percentage and passer rating in 2009 than '08, and should he decide to stick around for his senior year, he'll truly have a chance to shine behind a more experienced offensive line and veteran receivers to throw to.
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
Consider Pryor's 2009 season a sophomore slump. He threw for 16 touchdowns but also hurled 10 interceptions while seeing his passer rating fall nearly 20 points as well from 2008.
There were four games this year in which Pryor failed to even throw for 100 yards. We could chalk this up to his Vick-like style of being able to run and pass, but in a conservative offense like Jim Tressel likes to run, Pryor must amp up his throwing ability.
He'll get some dark horse attention based on team and name alone, but Pryor needs to prove more on the field next year.
Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
Call it a sentimental pick. Call it a precedent pick with Ndamukong Suh getting some defensive Heisman love. But when it comes to football, Herzlich is one of the best around.
You may know his story, how he was diagnosed with cancer and missed the entire 2009 season.
But did you how his 2008 season ended up? 110 tackles (89 solo), 2 sacks, and 6 interceptions with 2 of those being returned for touchdowns.
Herzlich has gone through treatment and is expecting to be back for his fifth year of eligibility in 2010.
I'd expect some Heisman attention for him next year, even if most of it is from his inspirational story.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
If for nothing else than he'll be a second year starter for the most storied program of the decade, expect Barkley's name in the Heisman mix.
He certainly didn't have a stellar 2009 year, ending with just one more TD than inteceptions.
Depending on who exactly from the offensive weaponry sticks around next year, Barkley should improve on his numbers.
Perhaps not enough to win the Heisman next year, but maybe 2011? We'll see.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
Only a sophomore, Rodgers rushed for 1,000-plus yards for the second straight year, ending his 2009 campaign with 1,377 yards and 20 TDs.
He improved his yards per carry averaged from 4.8 in 2008 to 5.4 in '09. He also became a much bigger threat in the passing game, catching 74 balls for over 500 yards.
Barring any serious injuries, Rodgers will be in NYC next December. Mark it down now.
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Moore actually finished 7th in the Heisman voting this year. That was attributed to the fact that Moore threw for 3,325 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Even better was that he threw only 3 interceptions, down from 10 thrown the year before.
Some will criticize Moore for playing against soft defenses, but even numbers like that deserve serious respect.
If Boise puts up a run in 2010 like they have this year, I don't see how you can keep Moore out of the Heisman discussion.
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Green didn't have great numbers this season. In fact, his freshman year last year was better. Why?
For one, he had Matthew Stafford throwing him the ball. Secondly, he missed three games this season.
Should the Bulldogs have at least a semi-decent QB next season, it won't take much for Green to stack up stats like he did at Summerville High in South Carolina.
He's got all the talent in the world, but can only do so much with a bad QB. Look for a bounce back season from AJ in 2010.