We are near the end of the 2010-11 bowl season, with only seven more games to be played and with much more excitement to unfold.
The top three Heisman candidates of 2010 have yet to play, but many more players have made a statement in their respective bowl games and hope that it carries over into 2011 and eventually leads to a chance at the prestigious Heisman Trophy.
This year was a cakewalk for Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, as he won the award in a landslide with his nothing-shy-of-perfect season, throwing for 2,500 yards and rushing for another 1,400, all with a combined touchdown total of 48.
There was no actual competitor that had the numbers to put up a fight against Newton, making him one of the easiest Heisman winners in history (putting aside the money scandal).
Will 2011 be the same if Newton returns? Can guys like Pryor, Robinson, James and even possibly Moore put up numbers to match Newton?
Most importantly, which players are looking to gain a boost from their 2010-11 bowl game?
Questions still linger if Robinson will return for his junior season. When asked, Robinson has said, "No response."
R-Rod is looking like his coaching days at Michigan are over, and when Robinson was asked about how he feels about it, he said, "That's my coach. That's who recruited me. That's it."
Robinson sure has the talent and ability to put up similar numbers to Newton, but with a weak coach and weak team that just got polished off by Mississippi State in Michigan's all-time worst bowl game, Robinson does not look like the Heisman type.
Denard still had two touchdowns and accounted for 313 of Michigan's 342 total yards, but it has been quite clear for some while that Robinson is going to need some help if he wants to make a run for the 2011 Heisman.
Maybe a coaching change will be good, maybe Robinson will stay, and just maybe Robinson will have a chance to win the Heisman next season. Unlikely, but crazier things have happened.
Standing at 6'1" and 205 pounds, and only a sophomore, Blackmon was more than a threat this year in the Big 12 and looks to be a high draft choice if he decides to declare.
If he were to stay for 2011—being a Heisman contender this year—his stock will only rise without injury (knock on wood).
He is the perfect combination of speed, size and talent. He accounted for two touchdowns and 117 yards in the rout of Arizona in the Alamo Bowl, as yet another team found itself without an answer for him.
He accumulated over 100 yards receiving in every single game, with the least amount of receptions being five against Nebraska, a game in which he still had 157 yards and two touchdowns on those five catches.
He had nearly 1,800 yards receiving on the season despite sitting out the game against K State. Add that game in there, and he may have 2,000 on the season.
He is flying high, and it would not be a bad choice to declare, but if he ends up sticking around for another year, Blackmon will for sure be in the running for the 2011 Heisman.
Kellen Moore is a field goal away from still being on top of the world. Undefeated season last year, leading into another year that looked the same, but a slip-up against Nevada threw Boise out the window.
They will still finish in the top 10 with their 26-3 bowl victory over Utah, but what did they really prove? Utah got killed by TCU. The Nevada slip-up was costly, putting Boise up against another MWC team for their bowl game and not in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.
Boise fans can talk about beating Virginia Tech and Oregon State, but the way I see it is if Va Tech does not beat Stanford tomorrow, there is no evidence of that being a great victory for the Broncos.
Along with getting matched up with another MWC team in the bowl, the Broncos are moving up, to the mighty MWC! Oh wait, TCU and Utah will be gone, and fellow competitors from the WAC will join them making the "old" WAC the "new" MWC.
This hurts Moore, and this small-timing school will always be a problem with his fight for the Heisman Trophy. IMO, he is a great quarterback in that Boise system, but I do not see him doing much in the NFL.
Time will tell, but another whipping of Utah and a 300-plus-yard performance never hurts when heading into 2011.
Mallet may be the best passer in college football today.
If he chooses to return for his senior season at Arkansas, and puts up the numbers that he has this season, he will make a great argument to contest Newton in 2011.
Completion rating of 66 percent and a QB rating of 170, along with 3,500 yards through the air with 30 touchdowns—pretty impressive numbers, if you ask me. He has phenomenal footwork and in my mind may be the best NFL QB prospect out there. He's 6'6" and 240 pounds and he is no Cam Newton, but this guy can move well for a big boy.
If Mallet puts up over 300 yards against an Ohio State defense that has had plenty of time to prepare for the pass attack, his Heisman campaign gets a massive boost for 2011.
As college football has progressed, it is more and more unlikely that a top-level prodigy recruit such as Pryor actually bursts onto the scene.
Rating high schoolers is as easy as predicting the score of this year's national title game.
Pryor has more than showed up. He had an impressive win against Oregon last year in the Rose Bowl, which launched his Heisman campaign for 2010.
Can he do it again with a victory over Arkansas?
A better question is: If OSU does take the bowl title, can Pryor match the same hype as he had this year?
He has a great advantage with the spotlight off of him and onto the Cam Newton saga. Although if Newton declares for the draft, all eyes will be on Pryor to possess the Heisman at the end of 2011.
James currently holds the Doak Walker running back award and is headed to the National Championship Game, and he is only a sophomore.
He placed third in the 2010 Heisman voting behind winner Newton and runner-up Andrew Luck. He holds the record for rushing yards by a freshman in the Pac-10, and is already creeping up the all-time rushing list, almost breaking into the top 10.
His numbers seem to improve, but he is going to need a special national title game to launch his 2011 campaign.
If Newton and Luck leave, Pryor and James will be favorites to take the trophy. What some people don't know is that James missed the opener against New Mexico, where backup running back Kenjon Barner had 150 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. If you add those numbers to James' 2010 season, that adds up to 1,850 yards with 25 touchdowns.
Still not as impressive as Luck, but if James explodes in this national title matchup for over 150 and a couple touchdowns, things will only get better with the work ethic that James has.
2011 could be Gabbert's year.
He made a statement this season, with a tough loss to Iowa to finish. But still, with over 400 yards passing and a battle until the end, Gabbert is one of the best QB's out there, and despite a loss in the Insight Bowl, things are still looking up for 2011.
At 6'5'' and 235 pounds, Gabbert will eventually fit in the NFL very nicely. If Luck and Newton stay, Gabbert's stock only rises for the NFL, and the Mizzou fans will have to only watch as their best player leaves to make millions.
Again, if he stays, 2011 could be his year, and the Insight Bowl only emphasized the fact that Blaine Gabbert is a top quarterback.
Assuming that Jones will stay, the future is bright for this kid.
Only a sophomore, he already has close 8,000 yards on his career. Although, when you throw the ball over 600 times in a season, I'd expect you to put up high numbers.
But, Jones has been there through the thick (2009), and now Oklahoma is on the rise with a crushing victory over Connecticut, where Jones threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns that puts him near the top with the favorites for the 2011 Heisman.
Again, if Luck and Newton leave, Jones has a real opportunity to assert himself in the race for the Heisman. With a great team coming back next year and an experienced QB such as Jones, Oklahoma will be a favorite for the national title, and with that comes brownie points for the Heisman.
Michael Dyer has had a breakout season. Highly recruited out of high school, Dyer is a beast at running the football, and his talent is overlooked.
He has a body that is ready for prime time on Sundays, and if his success continues, this kid can do a lot of great things for the Auburn Tigers.
There are two reasons why Dyer is underrated. He splits the backfield with McCalebb, and he stands next to a QB that won the Heisman in a landslide and is the face of college football at the moment.
If Dyer can break out for a game over 130 yards come January 10th, and if Newton leaves for the NFL, his stock will rise unbelievably for two reasons:
1) A great performance on the biggest stage in college football.
2) The QB is out of there, but Auburn is still on the map, and the media needs to put a face on Auburn team coming back next year, and Dyer will be the top candidate.
He can really show the nation what he is capable of. I don't see it as "if" Dyer will be in contention for the Heisman; it is more of "when" will Dyer be in contention for the Heisman.
Last on the list is Cam Newton, and for obvious reasons: He is a monster when it comes to football.
I put him last simply because if you read his name first, there would be no point in deciphering between the other candidates for 2011. If he comes back, he is the clear favorite, considering not one single team in the best conference in the country has an answer for this guy. He is an absolute beast and has the highest stock going into the NFL.
BUT, with questions of NFL lockout in the near future, will it be smart for any player to declare, even Scam, ahem, I mean, Cam Newton?
It is a dream come true for a kid to grow up, be chosen in the first round of the NFL draft and to make millions playing a sport they absolutely love. But with the lockout lingering, what if Newton declares and gets shut out immediately?
Time will tell, but winning the national title will only add to the assortment of trophies that Newton will accumulate in the future. Winning the title could be the icing on the cake to a perfect season by Cam and shoot him into 2011 on top of the college football world expecting a back-to-back Heisman win.