The Other Guys: A Look at the Dark Horse Heisman Candidates
We know about Jake Locker's top tier ability, Terrelle Pryor leads the most explosive offense in the nation, Jaquizz Rodgers and Ryan Mallet won't be coming out of nowhere this year, and that Mark Ingram guy is pretty good too. But what about the less talked about guys who could end up in a banquet room in January?
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
2009 Stats: 2,486 Yards, 19-9 TD-INT, 125.6 QB Rating
Many think the former Michigan State transfer will be a first round pick whenever he decides to head to the pros.
Foles has a cannon and a great frame for a quarterback. He was a main part of the turnaround in Tucson last season. With a full year of experience under his belt, I expect Foles to lead Arizona to a consistent Top-25 ranking this year, as well a Rose Bowl berth.
With USC's troubles and Oregon's instability at the QB position, I believe Foles and the Wildcats can take advantage of the perennial power houses possible down years and put Zona football on the map.
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
2009 Stats: 751 Rushing Yards, 8 TD's, 5.2 Avg, 126 Receiving Yards
If Ingram's injury continues to linger, Trent Richardson could be the Alabama running back to crash the Heisman ceremony this year.
A lot of scouts believe that Richardson, in the long run, will be the better pro running back out of the Crimson Tide's backfield.
Richardson's stat-line speaks for itself: 751 yards running behind the Heisman winner? If the feature back happens to be T-Rich, there will be no drop off in production.
Richardson will one day be an explosive back who is a first or second round pick when he leaves for the NFL and if he isn't a Heisman candidate this year, he will be next year.
Jeremy Avery, RB, Boise State
2009 Stats: 1,150 Rushing Yards, 6 TD's, 257 Receiving Yards
Often times when a team is a top five team, it's easy to go with the quarterback as that team's Heisman representative. Avery's teammate Kellen Moore is the Bronco getting all the preseason Heisman hype in Boise.
But it's the team's speedy 5'9" running back that people need to start considering.
With 2,436 career rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, the senior is about 2,000 yards off the school rushing record. It seems well off, but if he really starts strong and the record is in his sights they might ride him until he breaks it.
Avery will play in the NFL next season, whether it be in a Dexter McCluster type role, or as a smaller burst back like Darren Sproles.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
2009 Stats: 795 Receiving Yards, 9 TDs, 44 Receptions.
In college football there are 2 receivers that are far and away more talented than the rest of the pack. One is Georgia Bulldog receiver A.J. Green, the other is Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.
Standing 6'3" at 220 lbs, Floyd is an ideal size and he complements that with arguably the best hands in the nation.
Some scouts question if he has top-tier speed. While I dont expect him to run a 4.4, I think he has good enough speed to be a true number one in the NFL.
If Notre Dame can have a better season than people are expecting, it'll be because Michael Floyd had a Michael Crabtree/ Tim Brown -esque season.
Noel Devine-RB-West Virgina
2009 Stats: 1,456 Rushing Yards, 13 TD's, 6.1 Avg.
The always controversial back out of Fort Myers,Florida has quietly put together an extremely underrated college career in Morgantown.
With young signal caller Geno Smith taking the reigns, Devine will be relied on heavily as West Virgina tries to contend with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the Big East.
If Devine can improve on his 1,456 rushing yards last season and hit the 1,700-1,800 yard plateau, he will pass Avon Coburne as the schools all time leading rusher.
If Devine keeps the Mountaineers atop the Big East, I believe he will be a Heisman candidate while earning himself a second or third round draft grade.
Yes I know, I'll probably be ripped for this, but the kid can play.
Gilbert showed that last year in the National Championship game when Colt McCoy went down with an injury.
Mack Brown will point him in the right direction and have Gilbert playing like a junior and not a redshirt sophmore. Anyone who thinks the quarterback play of the Longhorns is going to fall off dramatically is very mistaken.
Gilbert may not have the accuracy, the experience, or the ability to seemingly win every game like McCoy; however he is much more gifted athletically and has a stronger arm.
Brandon Saine-RB-Ohio State
2009 Stats: 739 Rushing Yards, 4 TDs, 5.1 Avg
Yes, Brandon Saine is my pick to the Heisman Trophy this year.
He is the second best offensive player on arguably the most talented team in the country. I expect both Terelle Pryor and Brandon Saine to have huge years, but I think Saine will make a few long runs and some spectacular plays early to get his name out there.
If you don't believe me, look at what he did against Marshall on Thursday: 103 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns.
Saine will be a very good NFL player as well. He does everything well, bringing together exceptional north-south speed with great toughness.
Expect a huge year for the Buckeye running back.
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