The Heisman Trophy, one of the most celebrated trophies in all of sports. Year-in and year-out college football players hit the field in hopes of bringing back this bronze symbol of greatness back to their school, ultimately becoming a hero.
Mark Ingram nabbed the 2009 Heisman Trophy in the closest race in the history of the award. Many would consider Ingram the front-runner for 2010, but there is a list of great candidates that are also vying to be at the top of their class.
Here is a list of 20 not-too-early Heisman Trophy predictions, in no particular order.
A Heisman hopeful list wouldn't be complete without the previous year's winner, not to mention a member of lat year's National Championship team.
Ingram put up outstanding numbers in 2009 with 1,658 rushing yards on 271 attempts and 17 touchdowns. He also pulled in 334 yards on 32 receptions for three touchdowns.
The thing about the Heisman voters is that they expect a lot more of a repeat candidate, a lot more. They want to see numbers improve drastically, even though they were superb the season before. Just ask Tim Tebow about the difficulty of going back-to-back.
It will be hard for the Heisman voters to turn down Keenum if he posts statistics matching, or exceeding his 2009 numbers.
In 2009, Keenum threw for 5,671 yards and 44 touchdowns for his second consecutive 5,000 yard season.
Keenum might be another victim of his conference when it comes to voting time. Conference USA is often left in the shadows of the surrounding BCS Conferences, although Houston is starting to gain publicity in recent years. If he were, let's say in the SEC or Big 12, he would be opening a lot more eyes.
The West Virginia standout, Noel Devine, finished sixth in the Heisman balloting in 2009 and looks to move up the ladder in 2010.
Devine has the ability to take on the role as the nation's most dynamic runner in 2010. His remarkable speed on the ground gained him 1,465 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
Word is that Devine did not finish higher in the 2009 balloting due to his mediocre return skills, but if he improves on his already impressive 2009 numbers, he will likely be in consideration once again. A win against LSU in September will also be a huge boost for his Heisman campaign.
When a quarterback can put up 3,627 passing yards and 30 touchdowns in the SEC, they've got to be doing something right.
Mallett has the size, arm, accuracy, and a litter of great receivers to choose from at Arkansas, making his chances a little more possible. While the Razorbacks just might not be to the level of contending for the national title, Mallett will get them close with his returning offense.
If Mallett and the Razorbacks are able to knock off Alabama this season, look for him to being getting an invite to New York.
Standing at 5'7" 191 pounds, Rodgers seems like an unlikely running back candidate, but the guy has scary all-around skills.
He accumulated 1,440 rushing yards on 273 attempts, which is good. But add 78 receptions for 522 yards, and it's great. Rodgers also posted 21 touchdowns on the ground, and one receiving.
The only thing holding Rodgers back is the lack of media coverage for Oregon State, seeing as most of the attention is focused on their big brother, the Oregon Ducks. But the Beavers have been on the rise in recent years and big wins will undoubtedly help James' chances at college football's most prestigious player trophy.
Jake Locker was one of the big reasons the Huskies bounced back from an embarrassing 2008 season. Although 2009 brought in only five wins for the Huskies, they did manage to upset USC in the process.
Locker threw for 2,800 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 2009. He decided to stay at Washington for his senior year, after being projected as one of the first picks in the 2010 NFL Draft.
What is the one thing that could hurt Locker's chances? A losing season for the Huskies.
Washington has a horrendous 2010 schedule ahead of them, making the possibility of another losing season a little more realistic.
Trivia question: When was the last Heisman winner chosen from a team that had a losing record?
Answer: Paul Hornung in 1956
The LaGarrette Blount incident almost one year ago was quite possibly the best thing to happen to LaMichael James. After being forced into the starting lineup as a true freshman following Blount's suspension, he became one of the nation's best backs.
2009 brought in 1,546 yards on 230 attempts and 14 touchdowns for the Oregon Ducks. Now that his former teammate/Heisman hopeful Jeremiah Mosoli is gone from the team, all the eyes will be directed on James. Assuming he bypasses the "sophomore slump" and puts up huge numbers again in 2010, he could be one of the main contenders.
Dion Lewis had a standout 2009 season, and was quite possibly one of the most impressive freshmen last year while gaining 1,799 yards on the ground and 17 TDs for the Pittsburgh Panthers. These impressive stats led him to be ranked third in the nation for total rushing yards in 2009.
Lewis holds tremendous talent, and it showed with his dominance in the Big East last season. After flying under the radar when being recruited out of high school, he proved how the present-day recruiting rankings can be flawed.
His quickness and ability to breakdown the Big East defense will continue to push him into the elite, but will have to completely outdo Ingram in 2010 if he wishes to be on the final list of candidates, which will be hard to do considering the amount of attention Ingram and the Crimson Tide will receive.
Moore is a sensational quarterback, and his 2009 statistics show it. He completed 277 of 431 for 3,536 yards and 39 touchdowns. Add in only three interceptions on the year, and his numbers look near excellent.
BUT: Boise State Broncos + The top of anything = controversy
The thing is, he plays for a team that has yet to gain the respect of the college football world, not to mention the Heisman committee. Now, the reasons stacked against Boise State are high, and for the most part, very valid.
Wins over Virginia Tech and Oregon State will drastically help Moore's chances of consideration. With the Broncos returning nearly all of their starters in 2010, a 4,000 yard season from Moore is not out of the question.
Not many people have mentioned Greg Jones as a possible Heisman Candidate, mainly because most lists only incorporate offensive players, which in a reality, is what the Heisman voters prefer. But nonetheless, Jones deserves consideration.
The Michigan State linebacker totaled 153 tackles, 66 of them solo, and nine sacks in 2009. These stats were good enough to finish third in the nation in total tackles and earn him the Big Ten defensive Player of the Year.
Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs threw for 1,031 yards for six touchdowns in 2009, but it's not his passing statistics that have gotten him into this list, but rather his rushing skills as a dual threat quarterback.
Dobbs ran for 1,192 yards for 27 touchdowns in 2009, setting a NCAA single-season record for a quarterback. He also led the Navy Midshipmen to a 10-win season, just the third in school history.
The quick-footed quarterback finished second in the nation for total points scored (162) in 2009, just 10 behind Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart.
Navy must have a near-perfect 2010 season, and must pull off a win against Notre Dame to help his chances. In addition, Dobbs must show that he can improve upon his already record setting performance in 2009, which is quite possible seeing that he missed two games last year.
2009 was mostly a roller-coaster ride for Terelle Pryor, being up and down in performance until truly coming out in the Rose Bowl.
The highly praised Ohio State quarterback brought in 2,094 passing yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also led the Buckeyes in rushing with 779 yards on the ground.
For Pryor to improve his Heisman campaign, he must work on his arm and putting up bigger numbers in 2010. The thing is, Pryor might only need to have an "above average" performance due to all the praise hype that surrounds him, something that Heisman voters like.
As a true freshman last season for Virginia Tech, Ryan Williams rushed for 1,655 yards on 293 carries. He also had 21 touchdowns, in which eight of them were from the last two regular season games (four each).
After putting up almost the same exact 2009 numbers at Heisman winner Mark Ingram did, Williams looks to blow up in 2010, and a big rushing game against the Boise State Broncos will likely help his campaign.
Von MIller led the nation in 2009 in total sacks with 17 for the Texas A&M Aggies. This nightmare linebacker and defensive end has great ability to read the offense and his jump off the line is incredible.
Miller also recorded 43 tackles, 31 of which were solo in 2009. If he can follow up a great junior year with a stellar senior year, he could be one of the few defensive players slipping into the Heisman race.
Miami had concerns at the quarterback position heading into 2009, but Jacory Harris quickly put those concerns to ease. The U star pumped out 3,352 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2009.
Harris could be the dark horse in the Heisman race if he continues to improve, but only if he cuts down on his interceptions from last year (17). Armed with a cannon of an arm and great wide receivers, Harris is looking for another big season.
The Badgers undoubtedly relied on John Clay to gain a 10-win season, and his stats prove it. Clay carried the ball 287 times in 2009, only five other players in the nation had more attempts.
The junior running back totaled 1,517 rushing yards in 2009 for 18 touchdowns. With a stature of 6'2" 250 pounds, the guy can still move, just ask any of the Miami Hurricanes after he rallied up 121 yards and two touchdowns in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl.
The only thing that is working against the 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is the conference he plays in. The Big Ten is full of more well-known offensive players, with a lot of hype surrounding them (e.g. Pryor), in which he might become lost in gaining the attention that he deserves.
The Penn State Tailback rushed for 1,169 yards in 2009 for six touchdowns. The senior player passed on the NFL Draft to play one more year of college football.
With the departure of record-setting quarterback Daryll Clark from Penn State, Royster is expected to get a lot more carries in 2010, most likely bumping his numbers up drastically.
The Clemson safety had a remarkable 2009 season. McDaniel had 98 tackles, 58 of which were solo, four forced fumbles, and placed second in the nation for his eight interceptions on the year.
If McDaniel can stay focused and out of trouble, he has the potential to become one of the best defensive players in 2010.
The Oklahoma Sooner running back will finally be getting a lot more runs in the back field with the departure of Chris Brown, as the two have been splitting the runs.
While Murray did not put up crazy numbers in 2009, he did have a 2008 season over 1,000 yards. Murray is one of the runners who once they get on that first step, they are gone, and able to find the appropriate holes to make big plays.
The Stanford Cardinal freshman impressed all in 2009, coming out to throw for 2,575 yards, 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Luck led the Cardinal, along with Toby Gerhart to a winning season and huge upsets over both USC and Oregon last year. He has been referred to as the "ideal quarterback" with a stature of 6'4" 235 and pounds, as the Pac-10 starts to pump out another great quarterback.
With the departure of Gerhart to the NFL, Luck will most likely be passing a lot more and improving upon his 2009 numbers drastically.