2011 College Football Recruiting: The Top 10 2013 Heisman Hopefuls
Winning the Heisman Trophy is about more than just talent and individual statistics.
You need to be in the national spotlight and ideally need to be competing for the national championship. Your teammates can cost you the crown in a single game, a season can go down the drain in a single play, and the nation can turn their attention elsewhere in a heartbeat.
The Heisman is not just an award for college football's best annual player; it's a popularity contest, and being part of a great team can only make you more popular.
There might be better players out there, but it's whoever has the most exposure, projects himself in the best light to the Heisman voters, and presents the ideal blend of individual dominance and team success.
So lets take a trip into the future to 2013 and begin some early Heisman campaigns for a few of the top talents from the 2011 recruiting class.
10. Mike Bellamy, RB, Clemson
Bellamy is one of the fastest prospects in the state of Florida, clocking in at 4.3 seconds on his 40-time.
He rushed for over 2,000 yards his junior year and just under 2,000 his sophomore year.
Bellamy is a 5-star recruit considered by all experts to be one of the top prospects of the 2011 class. He's a top-five running back on pretty much every list that matters.
He's a playmaker who will light up scoreboards and burn defenders regularly. Of the 5-star running backs, he's the fastest of the bunch and can really get going in a hurry.
Bellamy is incredibly elusive and has tremendous balance and body control. That could make him the first Heisman trophy winner in Clemson history, though it will be quite a feat considering the competition playing for more high-profile programs.
9. Brandon Williams, RB, Oklahoma
Williams is a great all-around running back who contributes not only in the running game, but also as a legitimate weapon in the passing game. He doesn't have elite size or speed but makes up with it with a gamer's mentality and playing style.
Some guys are just meant to be observed on the football field, not in the weight room or with timing numbers. On the field he's a home run threat who picks his cuts and holes so well that defenders are left 10 yards behind him before they even know it.
The biggest question about his game is his ability to break tackles, as right now he often goes down on first contact. That's something that can easily be corrected with a college weight program, though.
Williams might end up being the best running back of the 2011 class and at Oklahoma he'll be in the mix for national championships with a ton of exposure around the country.
It's a distinct possibility he follows in Adrian Peterson's footsteps and brings the Sooners another Heisman.
8. Aaron Green, RB, Uncommitted
Aaron Green is the complete package when it comes to running backs. He runs with purpose, can make the first man miss, gets downfield in a hurry, and breaks tackles with surprising speed.
He's undersized at 5'11", 185 lbs, so he needs to bulk up or he just won't stay in one piece at the next level, but that's about all there is not to like about this kid.
There might not be anyone in the country who can change direction quite as fast as he can. Defenders are regularly left staring at the dust.
It's going to be Texas, Nebraska, FSU, or Cal for Green with most experts pointing toward the Cornhuskers.
That would be a great place for Green to showcase his skills and potentially be the first Heisman winner since Eric Crouch in 2001.
7. Kiehl Frazier, QB, Auburn
Kiehl Frazier is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who could run a spread, an option, a pro-style, or pretty much any offense you could dream up.
He throws the deep ball with excellent power and accuracy, and he can really do some damage when he gets loose in open space.
He's a pass-first guy that will beat you with his arm first and mostly takes off when the defense allows him to, much like a Braxton Miller. He's not as big or as strong as Miller, though, and there are some technical issues with his throwing motion.
Frazier is a just a straight gamer though and will lift his team onto his back and carry them to victory if he has to. That's something that can't be quantified with stats.
You have to go all the way back to 1985 and Bo Jackson to find Auburn's last Heisman winner, but this team is on the rise and Frazier will be under center with a very talented supporting cast.
6. De'Anthony Thomas, RB/CB, USC
Thomas has the potential to play any number of positions, from running back to cornerback, safety, and even linebacker.
Most experts agree he'd be a 5-star prospect regardless the tag put on him.
If he wasn't listed at 5'9" and 160 lbs, Thomas would most likely be the top prospect in the country.
Plenty of prospects have overcome their physical limitations though, so that isn't really cause for concern. Growing up in Crenshaw, Thomas has dealt with adversity his whole life.
He can become a dominating rusher and would do just as well on the other side of the ball playing corner.
Thomas envisions himself as a Charles Woodson-type player and dreams of winning the Heisman playing on both sides of the ball. He's as talented as anyone on this list, but the bar is much higher for defenders.
5. Christian LeMay, QB, Georgia
LeMay is one of the top quarterback prospects in the country, rated top three at his position by both Rivals and Scout. It doesn't take long for you to realize this kid is the real deal.
He's a natural winner and leader, the type of quarterback who stays calm under pressure and makes plays when it really counts. There aren't many quarterbacks with as much athleticism and throwing ability on the run.
If there's a knock on his game, it's that he tends to not feel pressure coming at times and holds the ball too casually. That usually equals turnovers, but what's great to see is that it doesn't frazzle him; he just plays through it.
The Bulldogs have never had a quarterback win the Heisman, but LeMay is a special talent who has the potential to light up scoreboards and lead this team back to prominence.
4. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Uncommitted
There's nothing to dislike about Crowell's game.
He has great breakaway speed, is very elusive, has top of the line instincts, makes lightning-fast cuts, doesn't hesitate, and can break tackles with the best of them.
Seems too good to be true, right?
Crowell has played with a talented stable of rushers his entire high school career behind a very good offensive line. He's never carried the load himself and there are serious questions about his ability to ever be able to.
It's down to Alabama and Georgia, with the Crimson Tide believed to be the favorites to land this 5-star prospect. If he heads to Tuscaloosa, the possibility of bringing home a Heisman are very, very real.
3. Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida
Driskel is Rivals' and ESPN's No. 1 quarterback in 2011, but neither lists him at five stars, and it's very difficult to believe that there's not a single quarterback in the class worthy of the rating.
He's described as a pure pocket passer but has the athleticism and speed to make plays happen with his legs when he needs to. He's got a very strong arm and is an accurate passer who can make all the throws a college quarterback needs to make.
Statistically he won't wow you though, and that's the main reason he tends to be left behind in the quarterback discussion when in reality he's not far off the pace of other five-star prospects.
I rate Christian LeMay and Kiehl Frazier a little higher on the quarterback recruit scale, but Driskel is in the best situation of the three. The Gators' spread offense focuses on the quarterback and does wonders padding the stats.
Frazier and LeMay could be more talented, but Driskel has the better chance to collect a Heisman.
2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Commitment: Ohio State
Miller is an idea dual-threat quarterback who possesses great quickness, elusive ability, and a powerful arm that really puts a lot of pressure on defenses. He runs a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and can change direction on a dime.
There are very few prospects capable of dominating a defense the way he does. Miller doesn't force plays, but rather lets his opponent choose how they're going to play him and then take advantage of whatever they offer.
If you crowd the line of scrimmage, he'll throw over you all night. If you give him space to run, he'll burn you for a quick 15 without any hesitation.
He committed to Ohio State in early June and the chance to play behind Terrelle Pryor is the perfect position to watch and learn.
Troy Smith got it done in 2006 and Pryor might be joining the Buckeyes Heisman club before his time is done as well. Miller could be right behind the two when his turn comes around.
1. Malcolm Brown, RB, Uncommitted
As a junior, Brown rushed for over 2,000 yards with 33 touchdowns. He's a powerful rusher that will put his shoulder down and punish defenders, wearing them down as the game goes on.
He won't wow you with his speed, but as a downhill rusher he's about as impressive as they come. Brown explodes into defenders and keeps his legs moving relentlessly, winning battles more times than not.
At 6' and 210 lbs, he's big enough to get on the field and make an impact right from day one.
That impact is likely to occur at Texas, where he'd instantly be the most talented back on the roster and could be one of the quickest risers to stardom of the entire 2011 recruiting class.
First it was Earl Campbell in 1977, and then Ricky Williams in 1998. Will it be Malcolm Brown in 2013?