Heisman Candidates 2012: 5 Players Who Should Lead the Pack Next Year

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2011

Heisman Candidates 2012: 5 Players Who Should Lead the Pack Next Year

0 of 5

    Once the dust settles from this year, the betting will begin on who could take home next year's 78th Heisman Trophy.

    Based on projections of players who may or may not return for next years season, some players appear to be early favorites to end up in New York City next year. 

    Here is a look at five players who could be sitting and waiting for their name to be mentioned with other Heisman winners next year. 

Darron Thomas

1 of 5

    In all likelihood, the Ducks will be losing LaMichael James in the offseason but Darron Thomas will be returning for his senior season and third as a starter.

    With the loss of James, Chip Kelly will likely make some changes to the Oregon offense that may allow Thomas to put up some pretty impressive statistics.

    If DeAnthony Thomas continues to develop into a bigger passing target like he did this year, Thomas may get off to a quick start and begin to build an impressive Heisman resume.

Marcus Lattimore

2 of 5

    Marcus Lattimore was off to a great start to his second season at South Carolina but had things cut short when he suffered a season ending knee injury.

    If Lattimore is able to return to 100 percent health, Lattimore will come into the season as the leading candidate at the running back position. With his blend of strength and speed, Lattimore will put the punch back into South Carolina's offense and put him back on the Heisman map. 

Denard Robinson

3 of 5

    Based on the way that Michigan's schedule sets up for next year, Denard Robinson is going to be provided with plenty of opportunities to separate himself as a top Heisman candidate. 

    Over the past two years, Robinson has earned some early Heisman hype but has faded down the stretch. If he can stay healthy and maintain his level of play in November, Robinson could get Michigan back at the Heisman ceremony. 

Tajh Boyd

4 of 5

    Tajh Boyd could have been a Heisman candidate this year, but after a perfect start to their season, the Tigers began to fade down the stretch and ended up losing three games in the second half of the season.

    If Boyd is able to keep the Tigers on the right path and help them find consistency all the way through the season, he has enough weapons around him that he will put up the numbers needed to win the Heisman Trophy.

Robert Griffin III

5 of 5

    While Robert Griffin is up for this year's Heisman Trophy, it's uncertain whether he'll enter this year's NFL draft.

    Due to having a redshirt year, Griffin could be back for his final season at Baylor, and it could be a special one for the Bears. If he is able to match and improve upon what he did this year, Griffin could win back-to-back Heisman awards.