Heisman Watch 2011: 10 Candidates We Can't Believe We Loved in September

Tom PerryCorrespondent INovember 17, 2011

Heisman Watch 2011: 10 Candidates We Can't Believe We Loved in September

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    It's funny how naive so many of us were back in September. But it's human nature to fall in love with a college football player or a few players after a big game or two and put them on the Heisman pedestal.

    As September turns to October and then we get to November, it becomes pretty clear that a dual-threat quarterback putting up big numbers against a Mid-American Conference program won't even get a call to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.

    So really, what were we thinking in September?

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

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    Marcus Lattimore was having a Heisman-like season before a knee injury sidelined him for the season.

    The South Carolina running back's season came to an end after seven games, but he still had 818 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

    Lattimore wasn't a disappointment, but rather a victim of an awkward hit.

    If he returns to full strength in 2012, Lattimore should be considered a front-runner again.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

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    Geno Smith is having a beast of a season under new coach Dana Holgorsen, but there's no way anyone would have considered him a Heisman candidate if they knew WVU would lose to Syracuse and Louisville.

    If the Mountaineers had gone 11-1 and only lost to LSU, Smith might actually be getting some serious hype, especially when you consider he has enjoyed the most success against the No. 1 team in the nation.

    In 10 starts this season, Smith has still thrown for an impressive 3,497 yards and 24 touchdowns, while throwing just five interceptions.

    Smith should be on the short list during the preseason in 2012.

Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M

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    Cyrus Gray is another player whose campaign was destroyed by his team's performance.

    While Gray has rushed for 95 yards a game and nine touchdowns, the Aggies have been one of the biggest disappointments this fall.

    After beginning the season in the Top 10, Mike Sherman's team is currently 5-5 while blowing leads in some of its biggest games.

    Sorry Cyrus, but what were we thinking putting you on any Heisman lists?

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

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    Landry Jones' name probably still appears around fifth to ninth on Heisman lists.

    However, after the outrageous numbers he put up last year you'd expect him to be a top-three contender right now. He'll be lucky to get an invite to the ceremony.

    Jones is having a good but inconsistent season.

    The loss to Texas Tech pretty much cost him any legitimate shot at the Heisman.

Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon

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    Cliff Harris has been suspended almost as much as he has seen the field this season.

    He missed the first game because of his off--field exploits during the summer, and then he couldn't stay out of trouble during the season.

    When he actually plays, Harris is a shutdown corner who can also return punts.

    Unfortunately, we didn't get to see enough of him this season.

E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

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    Injuries and the loss to Oklahoma pretty much took E.J. Manuel out of the conversation in late September.

    Even when Manuel has been on the field, though, he's been rather erratic.

    The athletic quarterback has thrown just 15 touchdown passes and has been intercepted eight times in nine games.

    He has completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,152 yards.

    Maybe next year? Don't count on him to be on too many preseason lists though.

Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

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    Ryan Broyles was having a huge season with 10 touchdowns and 128.6 yards per game receiving for Oklahoma.

    Then the preseason All-American ripped up his knee during a big win over Texas A&M.

    Broyles was probably a long shot anyway, but his loss has not and will not be easy to overcome.

Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State

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    Ryan Lindley is having an all-conference type of season.

    But if you want to win the Heisman at a school with the stature of San Diego State...well, you have to put up numbers like Houston's Case Keenum.

    Lindley's 15 touchdown passes and 1,957 passing yards don't even register with Heisman voters.

    He also lacks a signature win, which he could have gotten against Michigan or TCU.

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

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    Michael Floyd is a physically gifted receiver who should excel at the next level.

    But when he decided to come back for another season, Notre Dame fans had bigger expectations for Floyd.

    So did Heisman voters.

    His 77 receptions and 972 receiving yards won't register on any Heisman ranking.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

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    If Robert Griffin III played at a program with a higher profile than Baylor, he'd be a serious Heisman candidate this season.

    But Baylor is 6-3 and has two blowout losses in 2011, and no one can win the Heisman these days with those kind of losses.

    Still, Griffin is having a career year with 3,093 yards and 29 touchdowns, while throwing just five interceptions this year.

    Maybe next year, Robert.

Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin

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    Russell Wilson's start was so special.

    Through six games, the former North Carolina State quarterback was starting to draw comparisons to what Cam Newton did for Auburn last year.

    Then Wisconsin lost to Michigan State and Ohio State, and Wisconsin's BCS championship dreams came crashing down.

    So did Wilson's Heisman hopes.

    Sorry Russell.