by Ashley Guinan August 15, 2014
Here are my preseason Heisman front runners. I have six players who I think have the highest chances of making it to NYC as a finalist, and a few players who could also contend. Of course, these are all assuming no injuries, and we could always have a surprise freshman newcomer like last year. Agree or disagree? Have additions or subtractions? Let me know what you think! I also plan on revisiting this list at the beginning of November. You will notice one key player is left off my list. I think you will be agreeing with me on that one by November, but that’s what the season is for.
Highest chances first:
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina - The only defensive player I even considered for this list, Clowney is expected to go #1 in the NFL draft next spring. After “the hit” in the Outback Bowl this year, he has been high on Heisman charts. Manti Te’o, Tyrann Mathieu, and Ndamukong Suh have shown in recent years that defensive players can make the trip to NY. I expect Clowney to be a finalist, and possibly even win.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio St. - Miller led his team to a 12-0 record last year, and is the Heisman favorite of many heading into the season. I expect defenses to better prepare for him in his sophomore year, and I think Ohio St. will have 1 or 2 losses. However, he is a big time playmaker and has a good chance to be a finalist this year.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - Some may argue Bridgewater has “product of the system” numbers and doesn't play against great teams every week. However, he makes excellent decisions and is very accurate and will have his team in position to win every game this year. He is probably the only player not in a Big 5 conference that can make it to NY with 1 loss, but going undefeated will still be a key for his chances. He already has the name recognition, and should have even bigger numbers this year with Micheal Dyer there to help defenses respect the run game this year.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia - Murray had the 2nd highest QB rating in 2012. He is one of my favorite players and is a seasoned veteran on a good team. The knock on him, however, is that he can’t win the big one. He finally won a bowl game last year, and I think with the help of his 2 headed monster at RB, he can pull off some upsets in the SEC. He is often overlooked, but is the only QB in SEC history to have 3 seasons of 3,000+ passing yards. If he gets through the season with 1 or 2 losses, and some key “Heisman moments” and upsets, he has a good chance to make it to NY. He is obviously a national sleeper in this race and isn’t getting much press, but I have faith in him and his teammates this year. I just really like the guy, and his coach.
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama - He had the highest QB rating in 2012, and quarterbacks arguably the best team in the country. A good game manager, but no flashy plays. He will probably make it as a finalist just because he plays for Alabama, but I don’t expect him to win. If TJ Yeldon has a good season (as expected), the two players could end up splitting votes much like Jason White and Adrian Peterson did in 2004.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon - Black Mamba is one of the most exciting players in CFB. He will get more touches this year with Kenjon Barner exhausting his eligibility. He will definitely have the highlights and enough team success to make it to NY if he stays healthy.
Contenders (in no particular order):
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M; TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama; Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma; Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon; Marqise Lee, WR, USC; Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford; Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska; Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan; Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson; Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois; Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky