2013 Early Heisman Candidates
USC QB Max Wittek
USC QB Max Wittek
Posted Dec 9, 2012

2013 Early Heisman Candidates - Who are the guys likely to get all the offseason Heisman hype?

2013 Heisman Early Look

The Top Candidates - 9 to 16 

- 2012 - Johnny Manziel Becomes Johnny Heisman

They'd Be The Front-Runners, But …
They're going to have to settle for NFL riches. These are the players who'd be the Heisman stars going into next year, but they're all but certain to leave early for the next level. If any of these stars do return, though, they'll be at or near the top of the list.

RB Le'Veon Bell,
Michigan State
RB Gio Bernard,
North Carolina
QB Tyler Bray,
LB Jarvis Jones,
RB Eddie Lacy,
QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

E-mail Pete Fiutak

- 2013 Early Heisman Candidates - Top 8 

How many Heismans did Denard Robinson win? How about Andrew Luck, Landry Jones, Colt McCoy or Matt Barkley?

It's really, really, really hard to win a Heisman Trophy.

Everything has to go right with the team, the mood of the voting public, the timing, the schedule - conveniently, no one either saw or remembered Johnny Manziel against Florida or LSU - and even then it probably won't be enough. It's no longer good enough just to be great, now it takes something magical and record-setting to hold up the big prize.

So who's on the radar going into next season? A lot will be determined on what happens this bowl season and who'll choose to take off early for the NFL, but here are some of the most realistic front-runners.

16. QB Brett Hundley, Soph. UCLA

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … UCLA has been looking for its next great quarterback for years, and Hundley came up with a brilliant true freshman season showing that he's ready to be the main man for the foreseeable future. He's going to be the face of one of the it teams going into next season.

He's not going to win because … the numbers might not quite be there. UCLA will use the running game in a balanced attack, and it might be tough to come up with the massive passing numbers to keep up with a few of the other favorites. With road games at Nebraska, Arizona, Oregon, Stanford and Utah, it might be tough to get the record needed to get to New York.

15. QB Taylor Martinez, Sr. Nebraska

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … it's possible he could make a junior-to-senior jump like he did from his sophomore-to-junior season. If he can improve his passing a bit, and if he can come up with some of the same magic in the clutch and highlight runs, he'll be on the radar from the start. The schedule is light and breezy with no Ohio State, no Wisconsin, and just one nasty road game, however …

He's not going to win because … the season, and his Heisman chase, might come down to the road game at Michigan. He might not be the type of player who can finish the job and come up with the game-in-and-game-out consistency needed to win the Heisman. He's going to have to carry the Huskers to BCS championship contention to be in the hunt, but next year's team will be in a fight just to get back to the Big Ten title game.

14. QB Jordan Lynch, Sr. Northern Illinois

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … no one ran for more yards before the bowls than Lynch, tearing off 1,771 yards and 19 touchdowns while leading the Huskies to the MAC championship and the Orange Bowl. His passing stats weren't bad, either, throwing for close to 3,000 yards with 24 touchdowns and just five picks.

He's not going to win because … he still plays for Northern Illinois and in the MAC. However, this all changes if Lynch rocks in a stunning win over Florida State on the national stage. The coaching change might be a problem for the offense, and it's asking a lot to have the same amazing season twice, but at least he'll be on the radar.

13. RB Todd Gurley, Soph. Georgia

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … Johnny Manziel wasn't the only freshman who came up with a great 2012. Gurley split time and had to share the offense with Aaron Murray – and he still might have to in 2013 – but he still stood out with 1,260 yards and 16 scores highlighted by a brilliant game against Alabama in the SEC championship. If the offense completely revolves around him, the sky is the limit.

He's not going to win because … Keith Marshall isn't a bad back, either. This might be Gurley's running game, but Marshall has the potential to take away just enough carries to sour a Heisman campaign. If Murray comes back for one more year, he'll be the star of the offense and the team's leader for the Heisman.

12. QB A.J. McCarron, Sr. Alabama

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … If Alabama beats Notre Dame, McCarron will come into the season a two-time national champion – and a part of three championship teams – with the squad around him to potentially threepeat. The nation's leader in passing efficiency gets a burgeoning superstar in Amari Cooper to throw to.
He's not going to win because … the O line will have some rebuilding to do and the team will lose plenty of NFL talent – again. McCarron will never put up the huge numbers needed to compete with some of the other top Heisman prospects, meaning he'll have to be in the chase based on his leadership – that's usually a hard sell.

11. QB Max Wittek, Soph. USC

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … he's the USC starting quarterback with all the tools, moxie and talents to eventually become a top draft pick. With Marqise Lee and a strong offense around him, he should put up massive numbers on a team that might bounce back and be far stronger and more consistent.

He's not going to win because … Matt Barkley never got deep into the Heisman chase. Wittek's numbers need to be fantastic, but more than that he'll have to win and win big in the big games, especially the Notre Dame showdown on the road.

10. QB Devin Gardner, Sr. Michigan

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … the talent has always been undeniable, but he never really got his shot to shine with Denard Robinson the star of the show. Everything clicked late this year showing he could not only do a little of everything, but he could also run the offense without a problem and lead the way to wins. He looks the part of a quarterback who could potentially do some very, very big things now that he knows what he's doing, and if he has a big game in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina, the spotlight will be on. He'll have two big spotlight games against Notre Dame and Ohio State, both at home.

He's not going to win because … it's not like Robinson was ever in the Heisman chase by the end of any of his seasons. There hasn't been a more dynamic player than Robinson over the last four years, and despite all the amazing things he has done he never got to New York. Gardner doesn't have the same pizzazz, and he probably won't have the stats alone to win the Heisman.

9. RB James White, Sr. Wisconsin

Let's get the 2013 hype going because … it's not like Wisconsin is going to turn into a fun ‘n' gun attack now that Bret Bielema is in Arkansas. Montee Ball might have been the star, but White is faster and just a bit quicker in the open field. With his time in the Wild Badger formation, even throwing a touchdown pass in the Big Ten championship, White showed that the potential is there to be more than just a featured back. After running just 119 times for 802 yards and 12 scores, and with 32 career touchdown runs, the stats should go through the roof.

He's not going to win because … Brian Calhoun, P.J. Hill, John Clay, Michael Bennett, Montee Ball – Wisconsin running backs other than Ron Dayne never seem to get enough credit. They're seen as products of a system, and it's going to take something truly phenomenal to break through the ceiling. Ball set the all-time record for touchdowns, and he couldn't even crack the top three in the Heisman voting.

- 2013 Early Heisman Candidates - Top 8