The Only Five Players with a Shot At Winning the 2010 Heisman Trophy
Welcome to the era of compartmentalization in college football, the period of the BCS.
The BCS has taken the national contest for pigskin acclaim and reduced it to a one trick pony known as the BCS Champion.
By demonstrating enough voting power to be ranked in the top two of the final poll before the college bowl season, a school can get a shot at being declared the most current BCS Champion.
Winning back to back BCS titles? No team has been able to do so.
Similarly, the quest goes on for a dual Heisman Trophy winner in the BCS era, much less a back to back award recipient.
The overwhelming problem is so much fanfare is put toward winning the Heisman Trophy it can result in a case of which school has the best publicity department.
College alums in front of national media cameras tirelessly promoting "their man" seem to have as much impact on the eventual winner as performance on the field.
Despite all of this, there is no repeat Heisman winner in the age of the BCS.
Have players who won as Sophomores or Juniors gone backward in personal performance, did their teams not reach the perceived level the following season, or was it their school's SID that let them down once a single award was in the bag?
Do we face the reality of a continent where the effort of all great players are to be ignored if they fail to reach the Holy Grail of qualifying for one of the selected seats on various televised award shows in each December?
Accordingly, the Heisman Trophy award has made media stars of the most mundane players who are merely standouts on the top teams along with winners who are spectacular players of unlimited ability.
This has led to a frenzy of writers and fans who feel their season was a disappointment because their team did not win the BCS title or produce the Heisman Trophy winner..
All or nothing. A sad commentary on the state of college football, if not society in general.
Perhaps we should stop and look at the entire history of the Heisman award to get a more complete view of the pre-BCS attempts to win twice.
In the 75 years of the Trophy there has been exactly one repeat winner and that was 35 years ago.
These historic facts reveal we can dismiss last year's winner, Mark Ingram of Alabama, out of hand as a potential Heisman Trophy winner in 2010.
So, which five men will compete for the 2010 award before one is proclaimed the winner on a cold December night in New York City?
The following is a journey into the answer of that mystery with the a profile of the top candidates for this season's Heisman Trophy.
No. 5: Evan Royster, Penn State Running Back
Leaving defenders face down on the field (see pictured) is nothing new for Nittany Lion steamroller Evan Royster. The 6'1", 215 pound senior has sent many a good man to eat grass during his outstanding career.
In 2009, the big blue bruiser rattled defenses for 1,169 yards rushing along with snaring 16 passes, an average of six yards a carry and 12 yards a catch.
Simply put, it takes Royster only two touches of the football to result in a first down no matter how you analyze it.
Following a highlight filled high school career in Virginia, where he rushed for over 6,300 yards and scored 90 touchdowns, big number 22 faced the typical freshman redshirt season in his first year at State College in 2006.
Royster literally hit the ground running in State College in 2007, finishing second on the team in rushing and scoring the winning touchdown over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl.
He hasn't slowed down since.
One additional item could factor in Royster's bid for the Heisman, Penn State student pride in their fine player.
This pride is exemplified by a group of loyal fans who attend Nittany Lion home games.
These fans call themselves the "Blue Royster Cult," a take off on the 1970s rock band Blue Oyster Cult.
The group displays a banner which contains the phrase "Blue Royster Cult" in blue felt on a white background. Royster's jersey number is also displayed.
Just the sort of edge a great player needs in the tireless media battle for recognition.
No. 4: Ryan Mallett, Arkansas Quarterback
At 6'7" and 245 pounds, Junior signal-caller Ryan Mallett would appear more at home in an NBA frontcourt than on the gridiron in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Mallett began his career as the quarterback of the Michigan Wolverines in 2007, where he set the all-time record for longest pass play in Wolverine history with a 97 yard bomb against Wisconsin.
Upon the arrival of Rich Rodriguez to Ann Arbor, young Mallett hit the road for his home state and enrolled as a full fledged Razorback in 2008.
A wise choice.
During the 2009 season at Arkansas, Ryan Mallett threw for a school record 3,624 yards along with 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
Deadly dangerous at home, Mallett completed over 68 percent of his passes on his home turf.
Ryan Mallett was named 2009 National Performer of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards. Unlike the media circus Heisman, this trophy winner is selected only upon objective scientific rankings.
The stated purpose of the organization is to provide the most scientifically rigorous evaluations in college football and the group strives to eliminate politics in the awards process.
Coming off a Liberty Bowl MVP season, it should be noted Mallett matched or broke 16 school records at Arkansas in his first year.
It just might signal the start of a legendary career.
No. 3: Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh Running Back
Here is the inside sleeper for this year's Heisman Trophy, sensational sophomore Dion Lewis of the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The dynamic 5'8" 198 pound sophomore was second team AP All-America last season as a true freshman.
The "Golden Dynamo" rushed for 1,799 yards in 13 games, scoring 17 touchdowns and averaging 5.5 yards a carry.
Lewis rewrote the Pittsburgh record book, which contains former Panther standouts Tony Dorsett and "Ironhead" Heyward.
Lewis was deserving of the Heisman Trophy last season, having amassed superior rushing numbers to the eventual winner.
With an accent on a powerful ground attack in the Steel City, observers will keep a sharp eye on this sensational young star who has the potential to become the most celebrated player of the BCS era.
No. 2: Case Keenum, Houston Quarterback
Meet "The Machine."
Descriptions vary from being called "the toughest man in college football" to "a cannon attached to a computer."
However you slice it, the 6'2" 210 pound Senior quarterback of the Houston Cougars has the statistics to qualify as a Heisman contender in any era.
Last season, Keenum led the Cougars to 10 wins during the regular season by tossing 43 touchdown passes with only nine interceptions while completing over 70 percent of his passes.
Case's world came apart against the Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl when he pitched six passes to enemy personnel. His lone TD seemed of little consequence for the heartbroken leader of the traditional CUSA powerhouse.
Keenum has promised a clean slate and intends to approach this season as an avenging angel.
Case's junior season was not a stand alone effort, in his first two years he completed 68 percent of his passes and threw for 58 touchdowns, 44 of those as a sophomore.
How many QBs can state they have thrown for 44 touchdown passes in two different seasons with another year to go?
The Cougars will be favored again to win the Conference USA crown but, these Cougars seem ready to stalk bigger game on a larger stage.
Fans and players alike will have the September 18 game with UCLA in Los Angeles circled, as they realize it is an opportunity to make the "case for Case" on the big stage of the Rose Bowl stadium.
Throwing, winning, and running, somewhere along the journey of 2010 Case Keenum will convince many he is worthy of the Heisman Trophy award.
The question is, can he convince enough people?
No. 1: Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State Quarterback
6'6", 235 pounds, 4.3 speed in the 40. Have they ever made them like this in any era?
Like the second coming of Vince Young, this is a man among boys in college football.
Meet the sensational Terrelle Pryor of Rose Bowl Champion Ohio State.
In 2009 Pryor rushed for 779 yards and passed for over 2,000 while completing 57 percent of his attempts.
No wonder so many people in the nation are interested in the potential of this budding superstar and his effect on the game itself.
With his towering presence, gleaming smile, and movie star good looks, Pryor is not only the most complete football player of the day, he has a future on the stage or in the corporate boardroom.
This is 21st Century man in the ultimate.
With so much talent returning it appears Ohio State will be the favorite to win the BCS title this season and that will lend another helping hand to Pryor's quest for the Heisman Trophy.
But it will not all be fun and games for Pryor, nor will it be a cakewalk for the Buckeyes to win the BCS title.
Standing square in the way is quarterback Jacory Harris and his Miami Hurricanes, who just may be the best team in The South this year.
Harris and Pryor will face off on September 11 in Columbus. It should provide a stage to catapult either into the forefront of the Heisman race.
And it doesn't end there for Pryor and his Buckeyes.
The Big Ten is noted throughout history for having the most rugged conference schedules as there are no "gimmes" in Big Ten country.
Along the way the Buckeyes must travel to powerful Wisconsin and face 250 pound Badger running back John Clay.
Later, a trip to Iowa City is on the calendar. The Hawkeyes are loaded and feature their own Heisman candidate in quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
In view of the challenges ahead of Pryor, he has the opportunity to compete against and defeat top contenders for the Heisman Trophy as well as for the BCS Title.
If Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes come through the gauntlet unscathed, the New York Downtown Athletic Club can just mail the Heisman to Columbus.