College Football Predictions 2011: Top 10 Heisman Candidates for 2011
Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, has declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, meaning a new Heisman Trophy winner will be crowned in 2011.
Among the strongest candidates for the award are Heisman runners up LaMichael James and Andrew Luck. But the Heisman Trophy winner often emerges throughout the course of the season.
So, which players have the best shot of rising to the challenge in the 2011 Heisman Trophy Race?
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Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State - Brandon Weeden and Oklahoma State could sneak up on the Big 12 in 2011. Weeden has the weapons to put up big numbers and if the Cowboys take down Oklahoma, he'll be heading to New York.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State - Justin Blackmon was the best receiver in the country last season, but it takes a special type of player and situation for a wide out to win the Heisman.
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin - With a young quarterback, John Clay will get a chance to shoulder the load for the Badgers. He'll move up in this race if he rises to the occasion.
Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon - The Ducks will be right back in the National Title in the picture in 2011, and the maturation of Darron Thomas will go a long way towards determining their fate.
9. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
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Landry Jones was not overly impressive in 2010, but stands to have plenty of room for improvement in 2011.
In addition to having an extra year of experience, Jones will be surrounded by as much talent as anybody in the nation, and has a legitimate shot at the National Championship.
Playing in a Big 12 littered with watered down defenses, Landry should put up prolific statistics for Oklahoma and have an outside shot at winning the Heisman Trophy.
8. Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California
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Matt Barkley is arguably the most talented quarterback in the country, and the Pac-10 is going to be an elite conference in 2011. Between Stanford, Oregon and USC, the Pac-10 could certainly send a team to the BCS National Title Game.
Of course, the Trojans are not eligible to play in a Bowl game, but if Barkley continues his progression and is able to lead USC to a Pac-10 title, he should be right in the thick of the Heisman race.
7. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
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The Nebraska Cornhuskers are making the jump to the Big 10, which will put Taylor Martinez and the rest of the Nebraska football program on an even bigger national spotlight entering the 2011 season.
Martinez put together an impressive 2010 campaign until injuries slowed him down. If he stays healthy in 2011, the Cornhuskers will be one of the ten best teams in the country.
6. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
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Make no mistake about it, Alabama will be back in the National Title picture in 2011, and Trent Richardson will be carrying the load for the Crimson Tide.
Richardson has big shoes to fill with the departure of Mark Ingram, but in limited action he has averaged over five yards per carry and has all of the makings of an impact player.
5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
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After a 17-touchdown freshman season, and with most of the offense returning next year, South Carolina's Marcus Lattirmore could be in store for a monstrous sophomore campaign.
The Gamecocks will be playing in high profile games in the SEC, giving Lattimore plenty of chances to showcase his talent to the voters.
4. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
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As long as Brady Hoke makes good on his word to feature Denard Robinson in Michigan's offense, the dual-threat quarterback will get a chance to be the best player in the country.
Robinson is going to have to carry the Wolverines offensively, and could play himself into Heisman consideration with insane production and if he is able to lead the Wolverines to 9 wins.
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
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Kellen Moore's production speaks for itself. With a completion percentage near 70 percent, over 10,000 yards passing, and 97 touchdowns through the air, Kellen Moore will have the production to warrant a trip to New York.
Of course, he will be without both Titus Young and Austin Pettis next season, but he'll have a chance to lead Boise State to the BCS on his own.
2. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
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Andrew Luck shockingly decided to pass up the chance to be taken number one overall in the 2011 NFL Draft and return to Stanford for his redshirt junior season.
However, in 2011 Luck will be without some talented players on offense and his head coach Jim Harbaugh, who recently signed as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Can Luck still light up the scoreboard and lead the Cardinal to the BCS? Does he have enough to get past Oregon for the Pac-10 title?
If Luck is able to carry Stanford through Pac-10 play, he will receive significant consideration for the Heisman Trophy.
1. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
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LaMichael James is the preseason favorite to take home the hardware in 2011, and for good reason.
In two years with the Oregon Ducks, James has compiled over 3,000 rushing yards to go along with over 30 touchdowns.
Oregon looks to be just as strong next season, so James will get a chance to make big time plays in big time games. And LaMichael James is a big time player.
He's got Heisman written all over him.