Names like Chase Daniel, Daryl Clark and Chris Wells have come and gone in the past. Names that have seemed like sure bets for a trip to New York have faltered down the stretch for one reason or another.
However, while preseason Heisman odds mean close to nothing, there's nothing more fun than trying to predict the future face of college football.
For the record, I realize everyone will be bummed out if their favorite player isn't on the list. Names like Noel Devine, John Clay, AJ Green, Christian Ponder, Landry Jones and Josh Nesbitt will be extremely tough to leave off, but in the end I could only put 15 players on this list. Leave who you feel should be on the list in the comment section below!
When his career is all said and done, Jacory Harris may be associated with the renaissance of the Miami Hurricanes. For now, however, Harris is just a junior quarterback hoping to lead the Hurricanes back into championship contention.
However, in his second full season as a starter, Harris will have to make some mental leaps if he hopes to put up Heisman-worthy numbers. Despite throwing for 24 touchdowns and 3,352 yards, Harris also threw a startling 17 interceptions, including having five full games with two or more interceptions.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Ohio State, September 11th
If Harris can enter the Horseshoe and lead the Hurricanes out with an upset victory, it will likely be because he played on a higher level than fellow Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor.
As a sophomore, the St. Paul, Minnesota native racked up 44 receptions for 795 yards and nine touchdowns in a relatively conservative pro-style attack. Enter Brian Kelly, the offensive mastermind, who took former cornerback Mardy Gilyard and made him into an 80+ catch, 1,000 yard machine.
With a pass happy offense now installed South Bend and a strong armed quarterback in Dayne Crist, Floyd's production should see an immense increase. If Brian Kelly can bring immediate success to Notre Dame like he did at Cincinnati, Floyd could be catching a lot more than touchdowns next year; he could be catching a Heisman trophy.
Heisman Statement Game—@ USC, November 27th
In the final game of Notre Dame's regular season schedule, Michael Floyd will have to put out a stellar performance against the Trojans if he hopes to be in the Heisman discussion. If the race for the trophy is still wide-open, Floyd could emerge as the leader.
Heading into his fourth season as the Horned Frogs starter, Andy Dalton is poised to take the Frogs somewhere they haven't been since 1938; a National Championship.
Dalton's Heisman odds correlate directly to the Horned Frogs success. As a non-AQ quarterback who doesn't necessarily put up amazing stats (he threw for 2,756 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year), he'll have to take the Horned Frogs to a 12-0 record in the Mountain West if he hopes to bring TCU their first Heisman winner since Davey O'Brien.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Utah, November 6th
While the Oregon State opener might have a larger impact for the Horned Frogs' BCS hopes, the trip to Utah might play a bigger role on Dalton's Heisman resume as it’s the toughest game in the second half of TCU's schedule.
The first running back on our list, Royster played second fiddle to veteran quarterback Daryl Clark for two years. Now, Clark is off trying to earn a roster spot in the NFL and Royster is the key cog in Penn State's offense.
With a young quarterback to break out, Royster will play an enormous role in said starter's development. When he's not carrying the load and taking pressure off the quarterback's back, he'll be the recipient of dump off passes and outlet receptions. Considering Royster only carried the ball 205 times last year and still ran for 1,169 yards, his carries should rise to about 230 or 240 and his yardage should rise to about 1,400 yards.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Alabama, September 11th
While the game later in the season at Ohio State could very well make more of an impact, Royster will need to make an impact early as the Nittany Lions will be a bit under the radar by the national media. If Royster can impress against the Crimson Tide's young defense and potentially carry his team to upset the defending national champions, he could vault himself to the top of the Heisman charts.
The only thing keeping Williams from ranking higher on this list is unfortunately the talent around him. After taking over the starting role for injured star Darren Evans, Williams became a legitimate stud as a redshirt freshman, running for 1,665 yards and a crazy 21 touchdowns, consistently breaking 30, 40, 50 and 60 yard runs.
However, Williams has Evans back to push him for playing time as well as one of the nation's best rushing quarterbacks in senior Tyrod Taylor. Not to mention, backs that thrive off of huge plays like Williams did last year. Tend to see a drop in plays over 20+ yards next year, which could spell trouble for the 5'10” Hokie.
Heisman Statement Game—vs. Boise State, September 6th
While the pair of the road games at the end of the season (@Miami and @North Carolina) will be just as critical to Williams Heisman resume, the high profile season opener against the preseason darling Broncos will be critical to Williams making noise in the Heisman race early.
While the 5'9”, 180 pound halfback might not look the part, LaMichael James was truly the catalyst for Oregon's nigh-unstoppable zone-read option offense. The redshirt freshman ran for over 1,500 yards after replacing the suspended LeGarrette Blount, but now will have to contend with his own suspension.
James will miss the first game of the year against the New Mexico Lobos. Considering how poor the New Mexico defense was last season, James could miss a chance to burst out of the gate with a large game against a poor defense.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Oregon State, December 4th
Considering the Civil War game will likely be on national television considering it could once again decide a Rose Bowl berth, James will have one last shot to make an impact for the Heisman voters.
In the final season that brothers James (a 5'7”, senior wide receiver) and Jacquizz (a 5'8”, a junior running back) Rodgers are at Oregon State together, it's the younger Rodgers who’s getting the attention in the Heisman race.
With Sean Canfield off to try his hand at the National Football League, sophomore Ryan Katz will take over as the signal caller and he very well could be even better then Canfield. Katz dominated the Beaver's spring game.
Why is this good for Rodgers’ Heisman run? Well, with a lethal aerial attack, teams won't be able to crowd the line of scrimmage (which they couldn't even do last year, but that's beside the point) and Rodgers 5.3 average per rush could skyrocket to 5.7-6.0. Not to mention, Rodgers himself caught an outstanding 78 passes last year. With a young quarterback like Katz able to dump off to the 5'8” man-beast, Rodgers could have a record-breaking year at Oregon State.
Heisman Statement Game—vs. Oregon, December 4th
Just like with LaMichael James, Rodgers’ Heisman candidacy could rest in the Civil War matchup. If he can help the team win that game to potentially lead to their first Rose Bowl since 1965, voters will take note, particularly if he outperforms fellow Oregon player James.
Already being christened as the top overall pick in next April's NFL draft, Jake Locker still has hopes to end his career at Washington in style. After an unbelievably smooth transition to a pro style attack, Locker's familiarity with Steve Sarkisian's system should help his numbers flourish as well.
Washington only won five games last season, and if Washington fails to reach a bowl again, Locker won't sniff the trophy, despite however gaudy his statistics may be. However, if Locker can take the Huskies back to a Rose Bowl just two years removed from his injury-riddled 2008 0-12 campaign when Locker was declared out for the season in the fourth game of the year, he could turn some major heads towards that Washington program.
Heisman Statement Game—vs. Nebraska, September 18th
In an out of conference game to watch, the potential top-10 Cornhuskers will travel to the northwest, where Locker will have a chance to dissect their impressive defense. If he can, the dual-threat will firmly put his name in the Heisman ballot box early.
Spoiler alert—Ryan Broyles is the highest ranked wide receiver on my list. But the diminutive junior is oh-so-deserving. In a college football landscape dominated by 6'3”-6'6” receivers this year, Broyles is the most explosive at just 5'11”. As a sophomore, he caught an unbelievable 89 passes for 1,120 yards and 15 touchdowns with an injury replacement freshman filling in. Imagine if Sam Bradford hadn't gotten injured...
Add one more year of experience to both Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles, and the dynamic duo might just carry the Sooners back to the National Championship scene. However, Broyles carries the distinction of being a wide receiver, which will always handicap a Heisman hopeful. If Broyles has a fantastic season, Landry Jones will as well, this could lead to a Landry Jones Heisman campaign overshadowing the exciting Broyles.
Heisman Statement Game—vs. Texas, October 2nd
Just like any Sooner or Longhorn trying to carve out their niche in their storied programs lore, Broyles will have to show up big against a formidable Texas squad in the Red River Rivalry. If Broyles leads the Sooners past Texas on October 2nd, they could be cruising towards a Big XII South title and potentially a Heisman for Broyles.
As we move out of the dark horses and into the frontrunners, the diminutive sophomore Panther back was a force replacing LeSean McCoy last year. He carried the full load with 325 carries for 1,799 and 17 touchdowns.
In a Big East that lacks many fierce defenses (outside of Pittsburgh's own), Lewis will likely be facing lesser opponents than he. Even with sophomore Tino Sunseri stepping in at quarterback, the threat of 6'6” speedster Jonathan Baldwin will keep opponents from simply putting 11 men in the box all day.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Cincinnati, December 4th
In what will likely decide the Big East again, Lewis will be going head to head with Heisman sleeper Zach Collaros in a big time battle. If Lewis can impress and carry the Panthers to a Big East championship and potential BCS berth, he'll get major consideration for the Heisman trophy.
There hasn't been a quarterback outside of Graham Harrell in 2008 that can match, or even come close to, Case Keenum's numbers at Houston. In his last two seasons, he's thrown for over 10,000 yards and 88 touchdowns. Now, as a senior with full mastery of the offense he's already run so brilliantly, he has a chance to become Houston's second Heisman winner and the first since 1989.
Keenum's hopes will rest solely in his surpassing last year's numbers and the success of the Cougars. Coming from a quarterback friendly system, Keenum will have to improve upon his total of 5,671 yards last year, and he could very well become the first quarterback to throw for over 6,000 yards in a season.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Texas Tech, November 27th
While Keenum will have show up in every road game for the Cougars if he hopes to have himself in the Heisman discussion considering all four of Houston's losses were on the road last year, the regular season finale against the Red Raiders equally explosive offense will be by far the toughest challenge for the Cougars next year.
For preseason favorites Boise State, Kellen Moore is the key cog on offense. After throwing 39 touchdowns to only three interceptions last year, his numbers look to increase as a junior. Returning top targets like Titus Young and Austin Pettis doesn't hurt either.
Heisman Statement Game—vs. Virginia Tech, September 6th
Against the so-called "real opponents" on Boise State's schedule last year (Oregon and TCU), Moore only managed to pass for a combined 408 yards and 1 touchdown. If Moore wants to have any shot at winning the Heisman, he'll have to bring it against the top-tier talent he faces this year.
In his first year starting at Arkansas, the 6'7” junior thrived in Bobby Petrino's offense, throwing for 3,627 yards and 30 touchdowns. Now, with names Tebow, McClain and Cody gone from the SEC, Mallett has a chance to take the Razorbacks to new heights.
While he has the strongest arm in college football, Mallett doesn't have the mobility to beat defenders with his feet, which is what puts him a notch below our number two Heisman favorite...
Heisman Statement Game: vs. Alabama, September 25th
When better to make a statement in the Heisman race then when playing the defending Heisman winner? Against the National Champs, Mallett will have a chance to give a young defense their first real test, potentially urging an upset.
The last time Jim Tressel trusted a quarterback as much as he's trusting Terrelle Pryor this year, senior Troy Smith won the Heisman and the Buckeyes rolled to a National Championship berth.
In his third season as a starter, Terrelle Pryor carries his immense Rose Bowl performance into 2010. As a dual-threat quarterback, Pryor has the ability to beat opponents with both his legs and his arm, which allows him the ability to be an immense threat to all opposing defenses.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Iowa, November 20th
Of the last eight Heisman winners, only Tim Tebow in 2007 won without his team winning their conference. In the Buckeyes toughest game in 2010 by far, Pryor will have to carry the team on his back to assumably clinch a Big 10 title.
Who better to top the list off than the defending champ? Mark Ingram will look to turn his 2010 in Archie Griffin's 1975. However, things aren't all peachy keen for the defending trophy holder.
He loses key blockers in Mike Johnson and Colin Peek, along with playing in an SEC West that contains Auburn, Arkansas and LSU, which looks to be one of the fiercest divisions in all of college football. Not to mention, the sophomore below Ingram, Trent Richardson, is being touted as even better then Ingram.
However, all these issues have plagued future Heisman trophy winners in the past, and Ingram looks to be the kind of player who can overcome those worries.
Heisman Statement Game—@ Arkansas, September 25th
In what will be the Crimson Tide's toughest game of the year, Ingram will have to make up for an inexperienced defense going up against their first real elite quarterback. If he can carry the Crimson Tide to a victory despite any (assumed) defensive deficiencies, he'll put himself right up in front of the Heisman race once again.