College Football: 10 Potential Heisman Candidates And Why They Won't Win
Tis’ the season to be prognosticating. Fa la la la la…..oh, forget the singing. This is the time of year where every pundit is a genius and every genius is an idiot as both try to predict who will be the next “big thing” in college football.
If it’s not a list of rankings, it’s a list of sleepers, both are fun to read but neither means a thing until the season plays itself out.
Nevertheless, we try to find these lists so we can rip them to shreds and point out just how ill-conceived and useless they truly are, that’s fun for a large majority of us college football fans.
In the case of the Heisman, the lists are often based on a player’s prior year’s stats and tend to be as accurate a conglomeration as you are likely to find in any blog, news article, or preview guide. They are almost fool proof.
So, the next 10 names are guys who are probably going to land on those lists and why they won’t win the Heisman in 2010.
That’s right, why they won’t win.
Agree with me if you choose, but if you don’t, well….that’s cool too. Let’s get this party started.
Case Keenum, QB—Houston
2009 Stats: 5,632 yards, 44TDs, and 15 INTs
Let’s be honest, when you think of the Houston Cougars, and their spread offense, a part of you is wondering how much of Keenum’s success is based on a soft schedule and a high-powered passing game, right?
Well, let me just state that Keenum is a great quarterback. He is every bit as good as advertised, but he will have to take his talents to the next level to prove as much. It will be difficult for anyone to take him seriously this season no matter how many yards he puts up.
Non-BCS conferences are largely overlooked by the Heisman voters and Keenum won’t get any special favors from the Downtown Athletic Club.
Other roadblocks: Keep an eye on the offensive line. They had to do some re-aligning this spring and Keenum will be working with a new center. Also, the defense was bad last season—particularly against the run (ranked 115th)—will they be any better?
Houston’s Last Heisman Winner: Andre Ware, 1989
Mark Ingram, RB—Alabama
2009 Stats: 1,658 yards, 17 TDs, and 6.12 YPC
How Alabama went as long as they did minus a Heisman Trophy winner seems laughable when you consider the sheer number of players that have come through Tuscaloosa.
Well, maybe not when you remember that a lot of them were defensive players.
Even so, it seems that those who make the final decision as to who will win the award have something against giving it twice and that already lessens the possibility of seeing Ingram hoisting it again in 2010.
Is this a good reason to say he won’t win? No, not really, but ask Tim Tebow if the Heisman committee gives a hoot about logic.
Other roadblocks: Trent Richardson. The kid is hideously good. Also, hefty expectations could prove to be the ‘jinx’ that the college football gods ordered. We shall see.
Alabama’s Last Heisman Winner: Mark Ingram, 2009
Terrelle Pryor, QB—Ohio State
2009 Stats: 2,087 yards, 18 TDs, and 11 INTs
Pryor has been the kind of player you can either love or loathe and after his performance in the Rose Bowl last season, people started to love him more. His name has gained some buzz in the Heisman conversation and many are predicting that 2010 will be the year he finally brings it all together and makes a push for the big money trophy.
Well, until he can prove he’s more than a one-trick pony, it’s tough to say that he’s “turned the corner” on anything. His tendencies towards regression are well-documented and a questionable knee makes it even tougher to see him doing as much for the Buckeyes as some feel he will.
Other roadblocks: offensive line depth, they lost two key backups in Andrew Moses and Jim Cordle. The passing game has to get better, is Pryor ready to take his numbers to the next level?
Ohio State’s Last Heisman Winner: Troy Smith, 2006
Jake Locker, QB—Washington
2009 Stats: 2,800 yards, 21 TDs, and 11 INTs. 388 yards and 7 TDs rushing.
Jake Locker has been toiling in obscurity for the last three seasons. You can credit that to the futility of the Huskies in the win column.
Last season, the team made some nice strides under new coach, Steve Sarkisian, and that set into motion some chatter about Locker getting a Heisman look in his senior season.
Washington could make it to a bowl this year but until they play more compelling games on a bigger stage—they only played one televised game in primetime last season—Locker will largely go unnoticed by voters and viewers who aren’t on the west coast.
Other roadblocks: The defense. If they can’t stop anybody, Locker won’t win many games.
Washington’s Last Heisman Contender: Marques Tuiasosopo, 2000
LaMichael James, RB—Oregon
2009 Stats: 1,546 yards, 14 TDs, and 6.72 YPC
James is a criminal! He’s a menace! He beats up on women! He shouldn’t even be playing football.
Okay, now that we've gotten all of that out of the way, you have reasons numero uno through infinity as to why James won’t win: public opinion. Too many people feel like he wouldn’t be “worthy” of post-season accolades based on his off-field troubles this past off-season.
It may not be fair but it’s the truth.
Other roadblocks. There will be no Jeremiah Masoli, so who’s going to bring balance to the running game that James brings? Furthermore, will James be able to hold onto his starting job after missing game one? After all, he’s not the only talented back on the team—see Lache Seastrunk and Kenjon Barber.
Last Heisman Trophy Contender: Dennis Dixon, 2007
Ryan Mallett, QB—Arkansas
2009 Stats: 3,624 yards, 30 TDs, and 7 INTs
Nothing against Ryan Mallett and his above-average quarterbacking skills, but, he’s in the wrong conference, playing at the wrong position, to be awarded the Heisman.
Since inception, the Heisman has been given to an SEC quarterback four times, three of those players came from the University of Florida and one from Auburn. Unfortunately for Mallett, when people think of the SEC, they think of running backs and he will have to put up some lavish numbers to get a nod.
Does he have Tebow’s appeal? Not likely. Will he put up Danny Wuerffel numbers? Likely, but it’s doubtful that the Razorbacks will end up playing for the National Championship. The odds are against him on all counts.
Last Heisman Contender: Darren McFadden, 2007
Noel Devine, RB—West Virginia
2009 Stats: 1,465 yards, 14 TDs, and 6.08 YPC
Noel Devine could very well be the best running back in the conference but Dion Lewis is the Big East’s sexy pick for 2010 and that leaves Noel Devine playing second fiddle. Imagine that.
Aside from his playing running back at a school where running the ball is king, Devine may not have the same opportunities to showcase his skills when and where it matters.
The Mountaineers don’t play any big time games in primetime this season and the buzz factor around them isn’t loud enough to give Devine the necessary momentum coming into 2010.
Other roadblocks: He is not a workhorse, he will share carries, and that hurts his stock.
Last Heisman Contender: Patrick White, 2007
Andrew Luck, QB—Stanford
2009 Stats: 2,575 yards, 13 TDs, and 4 INTs. 354 yards and 2 TDs rushing.
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as he heads into his second season at the QB helm for Stanford. That’s a good thing too as buzz is one of the key elements of getting some Heisman love.
That said, he will only be a sophomore this coming season and, despite the recent kudos given to sophomore players, Luck would have to put up some very big numbers to win the award in just his second season.
Other roadblocks: Replacing Gerhardt and a lack of primetime exposure.
Last Heisman Winner: Jim Plunkett, 1970
Ryan Williams, RB—Virginia Tech
2009 Stats: 1,655 yards, 21 TDs, and 5.65 YPC
Williams was a stud for the Hokies last season and made a name for himself in the wake of Darren Evans' injury. However, there is a huge possibility that Evans' return will put a damper on Williams’ production this year.
Current spring buzz has the two either sharing the carries or Evans returning to his 2008 role of starter. The first game of the season against the Boise State Broncos could tell us a lot about Williams’ place on the depth chart.
Other roadblocks: None. The Hokies offense is loaded but if they lose to Boise State in game one, that would take the wind out of their sails nationally and people may not tune in much going forward. No attention equals no exposure, which translates to few Heisman votes.
Last Heisman Contender: Michael Vick, 2000
Michael Floyd, WR—Notre Dame
2009 Stats: 44 receptions, 795 yards, and 9 TDs (18.07 YPC)
Michael Floyd may benefit from the absence of Golden Tate, but it's difficult for a wide receiver to get any serious looks from the Heisman committee lately. Add to that, Floyd will have a new quarterback, new offensive scheme, and all eyes on him every Saturday.
He produced well in 2009, despite missing five games but can he translate that into a full season in which he will likely be the first option for his quarterback?
Other roadblocks: None that haven't already been mentioned. Notre Dame always has buzz, exposure, and the eye of the balloting faithful, someone just needs to shine.
Last Heisman Winner: Tim Brown, 1987