Heisman Hopes: An In-depth look at the 2010 Candidates
This year's Heisman race is wide open. Gone are the usual suspects of McCoy, Tebow, and Bradford.
It's time for players like Masoli, Pryor, and Taylor to shine in the bright lights of New York City. Mark Ingram starts his quest to become the second two-time Heisman winner, and quarterbacks generally dominate the ballot.
The 2010 Heisman race looks to be just as exciting as 2009, and probably won't be decided until early December once again.
John Clay RB Sr. Wisconsin
Last Season: 1517 yards rushing 18 TD
There’s no debate as to what Wisconsin tries to do on offense. They have five road graders on the offensive line, and a Mack truck of a running back in Clay.
With a soft schedule for the first few games, look for Clay to put up stats early and often. October will give him two games in the national spotlight to try impress the voters.
Moments to Shine: Ohio State (10/16), at Iowa (10/23)
Prediction: Watching at home: Last season's Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year has a tendency to get dinged up with his punishing running style. He’s prime for an injury that sidelines him, or hinders his play reducing his stats for a few games during the middle of the season.
Mark Ingram RB Jr. Alabama
Last Season: 1658 rushing yards 17 TD
Ingram comes in as last year's Heisman winner, and the focus of what will be the preseason No. 1 team's offense. The schedule is full of tough games, but Ingram has a habit of turning those into highlight reels.
Will he be the second two-time Heisman winner? Time will tell.
Moments to Shine: Penn State (9/11), Florida (10/2), at LSU (11/6)
Prediction: Going to New York: He’s going to be sitting front row of the ceremony barring an injury. Even with an average year, the fact he’s a returning Heisman winner will be enough to get his ticket punched.
Dion Lewis RB So. Pittsburgh
Last Season: 1799 rushing yards 17 TD
Dion Lewis is one of the most explosive players in college football. He can score in a multitude of ways on the field and is the key to the Panther offense. Pittsburgh will once again look to challenge for a Big East crown, and will rely heavily on the speed and agility of their star running back.
Moments to Shine: Miami Fl (9/25), at Notre Dame (10/9), WVU (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Lewis seems to be the best sophomore candidate to continue the streak of sophomore winners. I think that streak comes to the end this year as the talent and quantity of upperclassmen will over shadow the rest.
Lewis can easily prove me wrong and should be underestimated. He’ll put up solid stats once again, but I think the Big East defenses will be better prepared for him this season.
Jacquizz Rodgers RB Jr. Oregon State
Last Season: 1,440 rushing yards 21 TD
“Quizz” isn’t just a running back; he caught 78 passes last season as well. The offense focuses on him and his brother James.
Don’t let his size fool you either. At 5-foot-7, his shiftiness is what defenses focuses on but he has no problem running between the tackles for big gains. The schedule looks daunting for this Beavers team, which means there will be plenty of games to impress the voters.
Moments to Shine: at TCU (9/4), at Boise (9/25), USC (11/20), Oregon (12/4)
Prediction: Watching at home: Jacquizz will be hard-pressed to put up the stats he did last year against this year’s schedule. The middle part of the schedule is sandwiched between two difficult sets of games. The losses will eventually add up, knocking Rodgers out of the running.
Noel Devine RB Sr. West Virginia
Last Season: 1465 rushing yards 13 TD
Devine, much like Dion Lewis, is a highlight reel waiting to happen. Defenses must contain him and bring him down with the first tackle, otherwise they might not get another shot at him. He’s the offense for the Mountaineers, and they’ll need him as the rest of the Big East has closed the gap in terms of talent.
Moments to Shine: at LSU (9/25), USF, at Pittsburgh (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Devine will have plenty of opportunities to shine this season. That being said, LSU will be a tough hurdle to jump. The Tigers practiced against Trindon Holiday for four years and will be more than prepared to Noel Devine’s rushing attack.
West Virginia probably won't be in the BCS Title talk this season so a few bad games by Devine, added with a loss or two, and his Heisman hopes will be dashed.
LaMichael James RB So. Oregon
Last Season: 1,546 rushing yards 14 TD
James is the beneficiary of a dynamic quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, but that being said has immense talent of his own. He had seven straight 100 plus yard games rushing as a freshman.
Moments to Shine: at Tennessee (9/11), at USC (10/30), at Oregon State (12/4)
Prediction: Rooting for Masoli: This tandem will battle for votes in the beginning of the season but Masoli will pull away, taking James’ votes.
Masoli needs James to be a force running the ball, to free up the passing game for the Ducks. James is a name that will be brought up for the next several season as a Heisman hopeful, but not quite this year.
Darren Evans RB So. Virginia Tech
Last Season (2008): 1,265 yards rushing 11 TD
Darren Evans blew out his knee last summer and missed the 2009 season. The ACC wont be so lucky this year as Evans looks to gain the respect of the conference. He’ll share carrier duties with Williams this season, limiting their stats but keeping them both fresh.
Moments to Shine: Boise State (9/6), at Miami, Georgia Tech
Prediction: Rooting for Taylor: Evans’ offensive production will be directly limited by both Taylor and Williams, that being said don’t be surprised if he still gains over 1,000 yards rushing this season.
His votes will go to Taylor, unless he carries the team and the other two struggle which I don’t see happening.
Ryan Williams RB So. Virginia Tech
Last Season: 1,655 rushing yards 21 TD
Williams stepped up big when Evans got injured last summer. The freshman phenom will be expected to share carries along with still being explosive out of the backfield. This new role may take some time and adjustments but in the end both of the running back will have productive seasons.
Moments to Shine: Boise State (9/6), at Miami, Georgia Tech
The Hokies are blessed with the talent they have at running back, two thousand yard rushes inst out of the question. The schedule is primed for a BCS Title run, and with the help of Williams it looks that much more favorable. Williams, just like Evan will both be candidates for other awards this season, just not the Heisman.
AJ Green WR Jr. Georgia
Last Season: 808 receiving yards 6 TD
Green will once again be the focus to the Bulldogs offensive attack. The Bulldogs need to utilize Green’s ability to separate from coverage. With Washaun Ealey’s talent at running back, play action will be available and Green will be open.
Moments to Shine: Florida (10/30), Georgia Tech (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Green is the perfect definition of a dark horse candidate for the Heisman. He could have a fantastic season but unless Georgia wins the SEC East, I just don’t see him being in the running as a finalist. He will however, be a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.
Michael Floyd WR Jr. Notre Dame
Last Season: 795 receiving yards 9 TD
Floyd had at least one touchdown in all but one of his games last year. He's a dynamic receiver and will be the Irish's main weapon this season with the losses of Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen to the NFL.
Moments to Shine: Pittsburgh (10/9), at USC (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Michael Floyd's stats will suffer this upcoming season without Clausen throwing him the ball. Notre Dame's coaching changes doesn't help the situation, as the Irish enter a rebuilding year once again. Look for Floyd to be a Biletnikoff Finalist at years end.
Kellen Moore QB Sr. Boise State
Last Season: 3536 passing yards 39 TD 3 Int
Moore put up some serious numbers last season as a sophomore. This season he has his entire returning cast back in action with him, and a weak conference to put up video game stats in. The month of September will make or break for both Moore’s Heisman hopes and Boise State’s BCS Title chances.
Moments to Shine: at Virginia Tech (9/6), Oregon State (9/25)
Prediction: Watching at home: It’s going to be tough to beat Virginia Tech on FedEx field, especially with what looks to be a loaded Hokies team.
The Beavers will also be a difficult test, and I see Moore struggling in one or both of those games dooming his chances early. The voters will remember his struggles against BCS conference teams, once again keeping him out of serious consideration.
Andy Dalton QB Sr. TCU
Last Season: 2,756 passing yards 23 TD 8 Int
Dalton hopes to take the momentum of the Fiesta Bowl into next season in regards to his Heisman hopes. The Horned Frog should be an easy top 10 team this upcoming season. The defense as always is one of the country’s best, taking pressure of Dalton throughout the season.
Moments to Shine: Oregon State (9/4) BYU, Utah
Prediction: Dalton doesn’t nearly get the publicity of some of the others on the list. He’s also not going to have the stats Kellen Moore will put up, added to the fact voters still don’t fully respect the Mountain West Conference. He’ll be on several other award lists at the end of the year, just not the Heisman.
Matt Barkley QB So. USC
Last Season: 2735 passing yards 15 TD 14 Int
Barkley had an erratic freshman season, but that’s to be expected from a true freshman. There are some serious question marks about the Trojans this year with the loss of Damien Williams to the NFL, and the addition of Lane Kiffin. This season looks to be another uphill climb for the Barkley and the Trojans, but one thing you learn quickly is to never count out USC.
Moments to Shine: at Oregon State (10/23), Oregon (10/30), Notre Dame (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Barkley is a year away from being a true Heisman contender. This will be a rebuilding year once again for the Trojans, however don’t expect it to last long. This team has talent on both sides of the field, and plenty of weapons for Barkley to utilize. Remember this name for next season.
Case Keenum QB Sr. Houston
Last Season: 5,671 yards passing 44 TD
Keenum will be in a race with Moore to see who can put up the most stats this season. For those of you who play Fantasy Football’s college edition this is a great first pick. The soft conference schedule slate means 300 yard games with multiple touchdowns.
Moments to Shine: at UCLA (9/18), Mississippi State (10/9) at Texas Tech (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Houston would have to go undefeated for Keenum to win the Heisman. They won't, with games in LA and Lubbock. I fully expect him to put up ungodly numbers once against this season, but that’s about it as far as Heisman hype.
John Brantley QB Jr. Florida
Last Season: 410 passing yards 7 TD
Brantley? Yes Brantley and here’s why: This Gator team is still loaded with talent in the post-Tebow Era. This team won't look completely like last year's team as Brantley is more of a pocket passer than Tebow. He’ll go neck-and-neck with Ryan Mallet for passing stats in the SEC this season.
Moments to Shine: at Alabama (10/2), LSU (10/9), at Florida State (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Will Urban be back and in full force? Will Brantley be able to handle the responsibility to being a full time starter at UF? Will the offense be as productive with more of focus being put on passing?
These questions need to be answered early as the Gators schedule get rough in October. This team is rebuilding and probably will be 9-3 or 8-4 this season, just like they were in 2007 when Tebow won his Heisman.
Jake Locker QB Sr. Washington
Last Season: 2800 passing yards 21 TD 11 Int
Jake Locker comes back this season after turning down millions of NFL dollars. Some experts picked him as the best quarterback in the draft over Clausen and Bradford. That’s a lot of hype to live up to, but Locker is more than capable of doing it.
Moments to Shine: at BYU (9/4), Nebraska (9/18) at USC (10/2), at Oregon (11/6)
Prediction: Just missing the cut: The Huskies have a horrendous road slate this season, going to BYU, USC, Arizona, Oregon, and Cal. The home games aren’t much easier with Nebraska, Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford showing up. Locker will be tested early and often. He’ll have decent stats but too many losses as he just misses getting invited to New York.
Josh Nesbitt QB Sr. Georgia Tech
Last Season: 2738 total yards, 28 TD 5 Int
Nesbitt will become the main focus of opposing defenses now that Jonathan Dwyer declared for the NFL Draft. The ACC will be improved this season, and the schedule gives him plenty of chances to impress on national TV.
Moments to Shine: at Kansas (9/11) at Virginia Tech, at Georgia (11/27)
Prediction: Nesbitt will lead the Yellow Jackets through another successful season, but losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia will doom his chances of winning the Heisman. The other quarterbacks in conference will also help steal votes away Nesbitt, with Taylor, Ponder, and Harris in particular.
Jacory Harris QB Jr. Miami
Last Season: 3,352 passing yards, 24 TD 17 INT
Harris plagued himself with bad decision making throughout last season. This lead to several game losing interceptions as the Canes went 9-4 on the season. Harris hopefully went through his growing pains, and is now ready to bring Miami back to glory.
Moments to Shine: at Ohio State (9/11), at Pittsburgh (9/25), Virginia Tech
Prediction: Watching at Home: Miami’s schedule is pretty daunting in the first month with both Ohio State and Pittsburgh hosting Miami. These will provide ample opportunities for Harris to shine, but will also provide losses to his Hurricane squad.
I think he’ll still struggle with nagging injuries as the season goes on, along with shaky decision making at times. These issues will end his chances at winning the Heisman.
Christian Ponder QB Sr. Florida State
Last Season: 2,717 passing yards 14 TD 7 Int
Ponder blew out his shoulder making a tackle against Clemson and missed the remaining four games. Florida States coaching changes, if you can call it that, should have much effect on the offense. Ponder has the ability to put up the stats, and the weapons to do it.
Moments to Shine: at Oklahoma (9/11), BYU (9/18), Florida (11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Florida State, much like Miami, is looking to return to prominence. These teams are relying on their star quarterbacks to get them back on track. Ponder’s team will be able to navigate the ACC with success considering they don’t have Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech on the schedule.
The out of conference games are a different story, don’t be surprised if they lose to Oklahoma, and Florida by considerable margins.
Landry Jones QB So. Oklahoma
Last Season: 3,198 passing yards 26 TD 14 Int
Landry Jones falls into the John Brantley category. He’s on a talented team with enough weapons to put up enough stats to get him consideration. The Big 12 will be looking for new names to take over a quarterback this season. Jones, Robert Griffin, and Jerrod Johnson look to be some of those names.
Moments to Shine: Florida State (9/11), at Cincinnati (9/25), Texas (10/2), at Oklahoma State 11/27)
Prediction: Watching at home: Jones needs to work on his decision making in the offseason. His interceptions need to come down to become a real candidate. He threw five interceptions against Nebraska on way to a 10-3 loss. The schedule is balanced, but will allow for Jones to show what he’s got in more games than just the Red River shootout.
Robert Griffin QB So. Baylor
Last Season: 481 passing yards 4 TD
Griffin sustained a torn ACL against Northwestern State abruptly ending what looked to be a promising season. He looks to get back into action and send Baylor to a bowl game this season. The Big 12 is always an uphill climb for the Bears and this year will be no different, but with Griffin at the helm it’ll get just a little bit easier.
Moments to Shine: at TCU (9/18), at Texas (10/30), Oklahoma (11/20)
Prediction: Watching at home: Griffin has a chance to get some momentum going before the TCU game. If Baylor can become bowl eligible it’ll go a long way for Griffin’s slim Heisman hopes, even with that it’ll still take a win over Oklahoma or Texas before he gets serious looks.
Jerrod Johnson QB Sr. Texas A&M
Last Season: 3,579 passing yards 30 TD 8 Int
Johnson and the Aggies are the beneficiaries of an easy September schedule. The Big 12 schedule will be difficult as usual and they need to win the majority of these games before he’ll become a real contender. Texas A&M doesn’t carry the clout that Oklahoma or Texas does, it’s not fair but it’s a fact of life in the Big 12.
Moments to Shine: Arkansas (10/9), Oklahoma (11/6), at Texas (11/25)
Prediction: Watching at home: Johnson put up better stats than Colt McCoy did last season. He’ll probably do the same this season by beating out Griffin, and Jones, but that wont be enough to win the Heisman. The Aggies will do what they always do, and that’s beat lesser teams, but fall short against above average teams.
Andrew Luck QB So. Stanford
Last Season: 2,575 passing yards 13 TD 4 Int
Luck will be without the services of Toby Gerhart this season, and that will have a direct effect on how well the Cardinal offense performs. Luck now has sole control of the offense and his ability to lead the offense will hold, both his Heisman hopes and the Cardinal Pac-10 Title hopes in his hands.
Moments to Shine: at Notre Dame (9/25), at Oregon (10/2), USC (10/9)
Prediction: Stanford has a difficult schedule from start to finish. The back end of October provides some easier games, but back-to-back-to-back games against Notre Dame, Oregon, and USC will probably be enough to end any hope of a Heisman for Luck.
Ryan Mallet QB Jr. Arkansas
Last Season: 3,627 passing yards 30 TD 7 Int
Mallet is a touchdown machine. He threw for three or more touchdowns in five games last season. He threw for 5 touchdowns in two consecutive games last season, all while leading the Razorbacks to a 8-5 season.
Moments to Shine: at Georgia (9/18), Alabama (9/25), LSU (11/27)
Prediction: Going to New York: Mallet will have the numbers, and the respect of playing in the SEC to propel him to becoming a finalist for the Heisman. He won’t have to win every game, but he will have to produce in them. He’s been known to throw behind receives, get antsy in the pocket, and throw rockets when he doesn’t need to. If he can fix these problems, and looks as if he can easily in the offseason he’ll become a real contender for the 2010 Heisman Trophy.
Jeremiah Masoli QB Sr. Oregon
Last Season: 2,815 total yards 28 TD 6 Int
Masoli got roughed up against the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl, but don’t discount his performances throughout last season. He had an impressive year, and now has the majority of his offense back for this season.
Moments to Shine: at Tennessee (9/11), at USC (10/30), at Oregon State (12/4)
Prediction: Sitting in New York: Masoli, with the help of LaMichael James, will lead the Ducks to a second consecutive Pac-10 title. This team is poised for a BCS Title run, and with the talent the team has along with Masoli at the helm those dreams are realistic.
Tyrod Taylor QB Sr. Virginia Tech
Last Season: 2681 Total yards 18 TD 5 Int
Taylor, much like Pryor, has a great supporting cast including Darren Evans and Ryan Williams. He’s part of a three headed attack that gives defensive coordinators of the ACC fits.
Moments to Shine: Boise State (9/6), at Miami, Georgia Tech
Prediction: Heisman Runner-Up: Taylor will get the stats and the wins this season, and it’ll start with an impressive win over Boise State. The Hokies will finally avoid the letdowns, and put a season together getting them to the BCS Title Game. Taylor will be a huge part of the success as his senior leadership provides the focus this team needs to finally reach the summit.
Terrelle Pryor QB Jr. Ohio State
Last Season: 2,815 total yards 25 TD 11 Int
Pryor looked impressive during the Buckeyes Rose Bowl win. Tressel finally has the confidence in his star quarterback to loosen the reins and let Pryor run the show. The days of the pedestrian Buckeyes offense are going to diminish this season, something both the team and fans look forward to with great anticipation.
Moments to Shine: Miami (9/11), at Wisconsin (10/16), Penn State (11/13), at Iowa (11/20)
Prediction: Heisman Winner: Pryor will lead this talent rich Ohio State team throughout the season and into the BCS Title Game. After the Miami game, he should emerge as the front-runner for the Heisman, but the end of the Michigan game if the Buckeyes are still undefeated it’ll be his to lose.
2010 Heisman Ceremony
This season will pit many of these hopefuls against each other in both non-conference play and in the heat of conference action. Those results will dwindle this list down to a select few.
Heisman Finalists and results of voting (amount of votes):
Terrelle Pryor (1st)
Tyrod Taylor (2nd)
Mark Ingram (3rd)
Jeremiah Masoli (4th)
Ryan Mallet (5th)