Heisman Watch: Week 1 Edition; Boyd takes Early Lead

tajhboyd1. Tajh Boyd, Clemson QB

Boyd, who already had Heisman aspirations moving into his senior season, became the early frontrunner after his performance against No. 5 Georgia in Saturday’s opener. He was 18 of 30, for 270 and three touchdowns through the air. Plus, he added 42 yards and two scores on the ground. Considering the Tigers don’t play another ranked team until Oct. 19 when they host No. 11 Florida State, it’s fair to think Boyd will be in the race for the long haul. Unless, of course, teammate Sammy Watkins steals votes from him.

johnnymanziel2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB

The Aggies quarterback has probably turned off a few Heisman voters with his off field antics and considering he only played one half and couldn’t resist getting an unsportsmanlike penalty likely didn’t help his cause. He’s probably still the most electrifying player in college football, but Heisman winners typically excel on the field and at least act their age off of it. No matter what you think of Johnny Football, I don’t think anyone can make a good argument that his antics are helping his Heisman case. Of course, if A&M knocks off Alabama in two weeks, Manziel could probably sign a million autographs and still be the Heisman frontrunner.

sammywatkins3. Sammy Watkins, Clemson WR

If Manziel isn’t the most exciting player in college football, Watkins probably is. The Tigers’ wide receiver had an electrifying 77-yard touchdown in Saturday’s victory against Georgia. He finished the game with six catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. The problem is, he’s up against some bad history for non quarterbacks and running backs. In order to keep his high spot, he is going to have to really light it up over the next few months and hope he outshines teammate Boyd.

braxtonmiller4. Braxton Miller, Ohio State QB

Miller had pedestrian numbers Saturday against Buffalo, although he did account for two touchdowns. The Ohio State quarterback will not play a ranked opponent until they take on Wisconsin Sept. 28, so Miller will likely put up big numbers in the next month.

bretthundley5. Brett Hundley, UCLA QB

I’ve felt like Hundley has been the darkhorse Heisman candidate that nobody is talking about. After an explosive performance against Nevada Saturday – four total touchdowns – he is clearly in the race. The Bruins won’t play again until Sept. 14, when they travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska. If Hundley has a big game then and outshines another dual threat quarterback in the Cornhuskers Taylor Martinez, Heisman voters will notice.

marcusmariota6. Marcus Mariota, Oregon QB

The Ducks signal caller did what you’d expect him to do against Nicholls State, running for 113 yards and two scores and adding an efficient passing day. Next up, the Ducks play at Virginia. Mariota’s biggest problem might be teammate DeAnthony Thomas, who is likely to grab a lot of attention this year as well. There’s probably only enough room for one of them in the Heisman race.


7. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor RB

Using his tremendous speed, Seastrunk rushed for a quick 111 yards and two scores before exiting Saturday’s game against Wofford. It’s not really fair to discredit him for this, but what are the odds Baylor would have two Heisman Trophy winners in three years?

denathonythomas150x1008. DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon RB

Thomas, who seems to be getting forgotten a little bit in preseason projections, had 19 touches in Saturday’s opener against Nicholls State.Next up for Oregon are two big name, out of conference opponents, although neither Virginia or Tennessee are likely to provide much resistance to Oregon’s offense.

teddybridgewater9. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville QB

The one problem with Bridgewater is going to be the schedule he faces. Who’s the toughest team left for him to play? Kentucky, Florida International, Temple, Rutgers, South Florida, and Connecticut all lost this weekend. He did all he could do Sunday against Ohio, going 9 for 9 for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

jordanlynch150x10010. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois QB

The Huskies quarterback threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns in Northern Illinois’ victory against Iowa. The only major game left on the Huskies’ schedule is at Purdue, Sept. 28. If he wins out and other contenders fail to have huge years, could he win it? I still say it’s a longshot.




Stock Falling

A.J. McCarron, Alabama QB
Saturday was one of his least efficient games ever. I’m sure he will bounce back, but T. J. Yeldon will probably outshine him. If McCarron wins, it’ll be a career achievement award.

Kain Colter, Northwestern, QB

Colter, one of the best multi-faceted players in college football, was injured early in Northwestern’s win over California. The Wildcats won without him, which may actually hurt him because it lowers his perceived value to Northwestern.

Jadavion Clowney, South Carolina DE

He may still be the most talented player in college football, but one hit this offseason helped his fame reach a ridiculous height. He takes plays off, gets winded too often (although he says a stomach virus contributed to that Thursday) and he isn’t likely to score any touchdowns. He started the season way too early on Heisman Watch lists. He may go to New York but his chances of winning are slim. He’d have to record 20 sacks.

Marqise Lee, USC WR

Lee had a decent day in USC’s win against Hawaii, although he didn’t score. Here’s the problem: USC’s offense looked awful. Really bad.

Aaron Murray, Georgia QB

Although he didn’t play awful in the Bulldogs’ opening loss against Clemson, the fact still remains that he was on the losing end. Plus, he failed to throw a touchdown pass, although he did rush for one.

Heisman Watch: Michigan State’s Bell, Nebraska’s Martinez Rising

It is always hard to come up with a Heisman Watch after one week of football, but I think it is important to recognize the guys that started their season with a big game. For example, Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, who helped the Spartans defeat Boise State in one of the weekend’s marquee games. He touched the ball 50 times! Can he do that all year? Maybe, maybe not, but if I were voting today I’d have Bell on my Heisman ballot. Geno Smith from West Virginia did the same thing, only throwing four completions while helping the Mountaineers score 69 points against Marshall.

1 (1). QB Matt Barkley (USC Trojans)
STATS: 23 of 38, 372 yards, 3 TDs
As expected, Barkley torched Hawaii’s defense. He threw a touchdown to Marqise Lee on the first play from scrimmage and from there the route was on. This week the Trojans play Syracuse.
2 (NR). RB Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State)
STATS: 44 carries, 210 yards, 2 TDs; 6 receptions, 44 yards
Michigan State would not have won a tough game against Boise State without Bell, who had enough Heisman worthy runs to against the Broncos to suffice him for the rest of the season.
3 (9). QB Geno Smith (West Virginia)
STATS: 32 of 36, 323 yards, 4 TDs; 8 carries, 65 yards, TD
Smith threw as many touchdowns as incompletions in West Virginia’s dominating victory over Marshall.  Remember, Robert Griffin III began last season with stats that look sort of similar to Smith’s.
4 (4). RB De’Anthony Thomas (Oregon)
STATS: 4 catches, 55 yards, 2 TDs; 3 carries, 64 yards, TD
Thomas may not be able to win the Heisman Trophy if he only gets seven carries a game, but if he keeps scoring on over 40% of his touches he is a shoo-in to win the award. His only downside is Kenjon Barner, who looks to be Oregon’s starting RB over Thomas.
5 (2). Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina)
STATS: 23 carries, 110 yards, 2 TDs; 3 catches, 21 yards
Lattimore looked good coming back from an ACL injury. He had a fumble early, but scored two quick touchdowns (including the eventual game winner) to help the Gamecocks survive Vanderbilt.
6 (3). RB Montee Ball (Wisconsin)
STATS: 32 carries, 120 yards, TD; 3 catches, 31 yards
Ball was not very impressive against Northern Iowa, but he did break the 100 yard mark and he added a touchdown for the unimpressive Badgers.
7 (NR). QB Taylor Martinez (Nebraska)
STATS: 26 of 34, 354 yards, 5 TDs; 6 carries, 10 yards
Marinez looked like a completely different player on Saturday against Southern Miss, shredding the Eagles defense with five passing touchdowns and hardly using his legs at all.
8 (NR). RB Johnathan Franklin (UCLA)
STATS: 15 carries, 214 yards, 3 TDs; 1 reception, 4 yards
Franklin destroyed Rice’s defense on Thursday night. I know it was only one game, but at this point of the season everyone has only played one game. Let’s see how he does against Nebraska’s defense.
9 (NR). RB Andre Ellington (Clemson)
STATS: 26 carries, 231 yards
Ellington did everything but find the endzone in Clemson’s big win against Auburn on Saturday night. He had one fantastic carry–where he used his arm to balance himself and turn a short run into a game changer.
10 (10). QB Tyler Wilson (Arkansas)
STATS: 19 of 27, 367 yards, 3 TDs; 3 carries, -2 yards
Wilson has two weeks until playing his biggest Heisman game of the season–against No. 2 Alabama. Until then, stats against Louisiana Monroe and Jacksonville State will not matter much.


DROPPED OUT: Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma), Denard Robinson (QB, Michigan), Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech)

11. Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech–was No. 8 last week)
12. Aaron Murray (QB, Arkansas)
13. E. J. Manuel (QB, Florida State)
14. Tahj Boyd (QB, Clemson)
15. Marqis Lee (WR, USC)
16. Robert Woods (WR, USC)
17. Denard Robinson (QB, Michigan–was No.4 last week)
18. Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma–was No. 5 last week)
19. Tyler Bray (QB, Tennessee)
20. T. J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama)

ON THE RADAR: Giovanni Bernard (RB, North Carolina), Collin Klein (QB, Kansas State), Braxton Miller (Ohio State)

Preseason Heisman Watch: Barkley No. 1, but a Surprise at No. 2

Could Marcus Lattimore win the Heisman Trophy in 2012?

All season long, the Heisman Watch will bring you the latest news on the race for college football’s premiere award. Below, Daniel Evans handicaps the race from a preseason standpoint.

Since my last update, there have been a lot of shakeups at the top.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Clemson WR Sammy Watkins is suspended for the first two games of the year.
  • LSU CB Tyrann Matheiu has been dismissed from the team for violating team rules.
  • Georgia RB Isaiah Crowell has been dismissed from the team.
  • Penn State RB Silas Redd left the Nittany Lions following the NCAA’s investigation into the child abuse scandal. He is now enrolled at USC, upping his Heisman chances.

That list of 55 Heisman Trophy contenders was written on May 6, 2012. All of the moves listed above show just how quick things change in college football. My new list accounts for these changes, but reduces the list to ten favorites and ten more to watch.

1 1 Matt Barkley USC Trojans QB
Barkley plays the highest profile position in college football and is the most recognized player in the country. Add in that he plays for USC and it is easy to see why he is listed as the Heisman favorite.
2 2 Marcus Lattimore South Carolina RB
Lattimore would have been in the Heisman discussion last season if not for his knee injury. Now, he will once again be the focal point of South Carolina’s mediocre offense.
3 3 Montee Ball Wisconsin RB
Last season, Montee Ball ran for 39 touchdowns. If he runs for 20 in 2011 and still has a fantastic season, will voters hold it against him? Unfortunately, more than likely, they will.
4 9 De’Anthony Thomas Oregon RB  +5
Thomas is an explosive runner and a very rare dual threat due to his ability to make plays in the passing game. Now that LaMichael James is in the NFL, Thomas and Kenjon Barner will battle for carries in Oregon.
5 7 Denard Robinson Michigan QB  +2
Robinson’s jump here is because he has a great chance in week one against Alabama to anoint himself as the Heisman Trophy favorite. Although Robinson has struggled when forced to pass, he will face a young Crimson Tide secondary.
6 4 Landry Jones Oklahoma QB  -2
Jones will be the starting quarterback on one of the nation’s best teams. Losing Ryan Broyles hurts, but if the Sooners run the table you have to like his chances.
8 15 Logan Thomas Virginia Tech  QB +7
Logan Thomas’ biggest advantage is the Hokies’ schedule. Sometimes playing in the ACC over the SEC has its advantages. Plus, he is the only known threat on paper for the Hokies offensively. He may have to do it all for VT to be a top 15 team.
9  5 Geno Smith West Virginia  QB -4
Smith destroyed Clemson with 407 yards and six touchdowns in the Orange Bowl to end last season. His upside results in games like that. Of course, he also had two interception games in surprising losses to Syracuse and South Florida. Consistency is Smith’s biggest challenge.
10  10 Tyler Wilson Arkansas  QB
Wilson had a big season in his only year as a starter for the Razorbacks. Now, the pressure is on. With John L. Smith at head coach and Knile Davis back and healthy, will Wilson get as many chances to throw as he did last season?


THE NEXT TEN: 11. Aaron Murray (QB, Georgia), 12. Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson), 13. Collin Klein (QB, Kansas State), 14. Robert Woods (WR, USC), 15. A. J. McCarron (QB, Alabama), 16. Knile Davis (RB, Arkansas), 17. Keith Price (QB, Washington), 18. E. J. Manuel (QB, Florida State), 19. Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama), 20. Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson)

Is De’Anthony Thomas a Forgotten Heisman Contender?

Oregon running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas may be the Heisman contender that all of the preseason magazines are forgetting about. Athlon Sports ranks him on the honorable mention list. Phil Steele lists him as a “possibility”, below a top ten list and another long list of contenders. Lindy’s Sports has Thomas ranked, but he is at No. 7 overall.

How is this possible?

Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas may be the darkhorse Heisman contender that everyone is overlooking a little bit.

I know Thomas has to share the backfield with running back Kenjon Barner, but come on, this guy is a beast. He ran for 595 yards on 55 catches and seven touchdowns last saeason. He also caught 49 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns.

Think about it this way. Heisman contender LaMichael James took 247 carries last year.  James is now a San Francisco 49er. Barner had 152 carries.  Quarterback Darron Thomas, who surprisingly left for the NFL, had 56 carries.

The only downside is that new starting quarterback Bryan Bennett ran for 8.7 yards per carry last season during limited action. Bennett likes to run and his quickness means that he will likely be asked to run more than Thomas, who preferred to stay in the pocket as much as possible.

Thomas will receive a ton of carries in the Ducks new look offense. He may not be the main featured running back, but he will be the top playmaker on an offense that figures to put up hundreds of points in 2012.

Of course, I can’t complain too much about where Thomas is being ranked by the preseason magazines. I had the Oregon running back at No. 9 overall, behind five quarterbacks, Montee Ball, Marcus Lattimore, and Sammy Watkins, on my top 55 Heisman candidates list.

It’s hard to bet against a guy that will have the ball in his hands as much as De’Anthony Thomas, especially when he scored 16 touchdowns as a freshman. While guys like Montee Ball and Matt Barkley will be forced to live up to the expectations they created during monster seasons in 2011, Thomas will be quietly judged off of a more relaxed scale. It even helps that Watkins, Clemson’s star wide receiver, produced more national discussion during his freshman season in 2011 than Thomas did.

Although he is not being given the best odds, Thomas could be the best bet for your money as a Heisman contender in 2012.

55 Preseason Heisman Contenders for 2012

Want to know who the Heisman favorites are for 2013? Check out my top 55 list below:

1. USC QB Matt Barkley

Barkley will be on top of a lot of preseason lists for the Heisman. We’d like to be different, but this time being different might end up making us look stupid.  Barkley’s Trojans will be on the national stage all season long, so he will have as many chances to impress voters as any other top player (if not more). It also helps that he’s considered the favorite to be the NFL’s top overall selection in 2013. Expect the USC signal caller to be in everyone’s top five all season long.

2. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

I can almost hear Clemson fans now: “He can’t even stay healthy. How can he be No. 2 on a preseason Heisman Watch list? Blah, blah, blah. Every player on this list will have to stay healthy to win the award and injuries can happen to anyone, regardless of previous injury. Lattimore will carry the load for the Gamecocks in 2012, just like he has the last two seasons. Remember, if he had not tore his ACL last season, he might have won the award. In only 6.5 games in 2011, Lattimore already had run for 818 yards and had scored 11 total touchdowns.

3. Wisconsin RB Montee Ball

Why isn’t Ball No. 1? Heisman voters are going to use his breaking 2011 season against him. There’s no way Ball can run for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns again. If he does, I’ll personally fly to Wisconsin and deliver the Heisman Trophy to him myself. Ball will have to somehow convince voters that a 20-30 touchdown season is an accomplishment worthy of a Heisman Trophy when its following a record breaking campaign that wasn’t considered Heisman worthy (by voters).

4. Oklahoma QB Landry Jones

Let’s be honest, nobody would be surprised if Jones had a bounceback season and won the Heisman Trophy. He has great opportunities against Texas, Oklahoma State, and the rest of the Big 12 to put up huge numbers on the national stage. Plus, he plays in Oklahoma’s pass heavy offense, where the run is sometimes forgotten for slinging the football around.  His numbers will have to improve from 2011 though. Last year he only threw 29 TDs and 15 INTS.

5. West Virginia QB Geno Smith

Last season, Smith threw for 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions, but he did it quietly in the forgotten Big East.  When he attempted 65 passes against No. 1 LSU and threw for 463 yards, he opened some eyes.  His six touchdown performance against Clemson in the Orange Bowl showed that on the one of the game’s biggest stages, Smith can make great plays. Smith may be the nation’s best quarterback behind Barkley in 2012. He should put up incredible numbers this season.

6. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins

Watkins emerged on the scene in 2011, sparking Clemson’s passing game with thirteen total touchdowns. Not many true freshman can walk onto a division one campus and emerge as one of the nation’s best players, but Watkins was able to do that. The receivers’ recent arrest could cause him to be suspended, which could severely hamper his Heisman Trophy hopes. The Tigers open the season against Auburn, a game that will give Clemson a chance to prove that the team is an actual contender in 2012.

7. Michigan QB Denard Robinson

Robinson will either emerge as the favorite for the Heisman after Michigan’s opening game against Alabama or he will be all but done after a loss. “Shoelace” is one of the best athletes that has ever played quarterback in college football, but he completes less passes than a five year old throwing a football for the first time. If Robinson ever learns how to throw the ball even halfway decent, Michigan will be an instant title contender in the Big Ten. If he hopes to become a real Heisman contender, Robinson will beat Alabama, learn how to throw a spiral, and continue to run the ball at a ridiculous rate.

8. Georgia QB Aaron Murray

Murray threw for 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season and a lot of people are still waiting for more. Murray, now a junior, has to become more consistent in 2012. Last season, he had four games where he threw as many or more interceptions than touchdowns. Although Georgia’s offense doesn’t revolve completely around the pass like others, it is a little surprising that Murray only threw for over 300 yards in one game last season.


All of these guys play skill positions (except Matheiu) and can put up big numbers, but they all have question marks too Thomas could have a huge season without LaMichael James taking his carries, but how many carries will Kenjon Barner take? Wilson has question marks after Bobby Petrino’s firing. Woods has the preseason Heisman favorite throwing him the ball, meaning they could split votes.  You could argue for or against any of the ten guys below.

9. Oregon RB DeAnthony Thomas
10. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson
11. USC WR Robert Woods
12. LSU CB Tyrann Matheiu
13. Kansas State QB Collin Klein
14. West Virginia WR Tavon Austin
15. Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas
16. Washington QB Keith Price
17. Alabama QB A. J. McCarron
18. Arkansas RB Knile Davis


19. Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
20. Georgia RB Isaiah Crowell
21. Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead
22. Alabama RB Eddie Lacy
23. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
24. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray
25. Washington State WR Marquess Wilson
26. Missouri QB James Franklin
27. TCU QB Casey Pachall
28. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
29. Oregon RB Kenjon Barner
30. Florida State QB E. J. Manuel
31. California WR Keenan Allen
32. Oregon QB Bryan Bennett
33. Iowa QB James Vandenberg
34. Tennessee WR Justin Hunter
35. North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard


36. Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills
37. Texas RB Malcolm Brown
38. Missouri RB Henry Josey
39. Penn State RB Silas Redd
40. Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor
41. Notre Dame RB Cierre Wood
42. Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell
43. Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle
44. Texas A&M RB Christine Michael
45. Auburn QB Kiehl Frasier
46. Michigan RB Fitzgerald Touissant
47. Northwestern Kain Colter
48. Fresno State RB Robbie Rouse
49. SMU RB Zach Line
50. Florida QB Jeff Driskel/ Jacoby Brissett


51. Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
52. Florida State DE Brandon Jenkins
53. N. C. State CB David Amerson
54. Mississippi State CB Jonathan Banks
55. Michigan State CB Johnny Adams