2007 is so 2007.
Even thought the polish isn't even dry on this year's Heisman,
it's already time to dive into next year's race.
Obviously the landscape quickly changes depending on who comes
back and who jumps early to the NFL, but this should be another
great race with most of this year's stars certain to return. Of
course, it all might be over if No. 5 down in Arkansas decides
to pass up tens of millions of dollars for his senior year.
Sports information departments, get ready to hype up these
playmakers. Remember, the Heisman almost always goes to a skill
player on a big-time team, so to keep this in the land of the
real, there aren't any defensive players here.
These stars from non-BCS teams will put up huge numbers, but
will likely be ignored like Kevin Smith and Matt Forte this
Clement, QB Rice; Nate Davis, QB Ball State; Damion Fletcher, RB
Southern Miss; Chase Holbrook, QB New Mexico State; Eugene
Jarvis, RB Kent State; Brian Johnson, QB Utah; Dan LeFevour, QB
Central Michigan; Harvey Unga, RB BYU
The Watch List
These stars could be this year's Chase Daniel with the right
Carpenter, QB Arizona State; Jimmy Clausen, QB Notre Dame. Arian
Foster, RB Tennessee;
Freeman, QB Kansas State;
Harvin, WR/RB Florida; Kellen Lewis, QB Indiana; Jake Locker, QB
Washington; Ryan Mallett, QB Michigan; Stephen McGee, QB Texas
A&M; Joe McKnight, RB USC; Branden Ore, RB Virginia Tech; Curtis
Painter, QB Purdue; Javon Ringer, RB Michigan State; Zac
Robinson, QB Oklahoma State; Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia; Adam
Weber, QB Minnesota; Juice Williams, QB Illinois
Gone to the league of mercenaries
These players would be front-runners for the Heisman,
or at least in the early mix, but they're almost all
certain to be off playing in the National Fantasy
League, uh, National Football League, next year. The
number is where each will rank in the top 25 if they
choose to return.
Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas
Felix Jones, RB Arkansas (ranking assumes McFadden leaves
Kevin Smith, RB UCF
8. Steve Slaton, RB West Virginia
9. Ray Rice, RB Rutgers
Jackson, WR California
Mario Manningham, WR Michigan
NR. James Davis, RB Clemson
Jeremy Maclin, WR Missouri
Second in the nation in
all-purpose yards this year averaging 209 yards per game, Maclin
will be Chase Daniel's most dangerous target along with being a
top kick returner.
24. Tyler Graunke, QB Hawaii
If everyone else returns,
like head coach June Jones and star receiver Davone Bess,
Graunke will likely be the next great Hawaii passing machine.
He's not nearly as talented as Colt Brennan, but he's been in
the system and has a little bit of experience.
23. Matt Grothe, QB South Florida
Grothe got a little bit
of national exposure this season as the offensive star on the
one-time No. 2 team, and next season he'll be one of the Big
East's signature stars. He's an all-purpose playmaker who could
be seen as the poor man's version of Tim Tebow.
22. Willie Tuitama, QB Arizona
If Tuitama ever plays
consistently, and if the Wildcat offense can ever roll week in
and week out like it did this year against Washington and
Washington State, the overall numbers will be there to make a
big national splash.
21. Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech
With 125 catches for
1,861 yards and 21 touchdowns, Crabtree arrived on the college
football scene with a bang. He's a premier talent who might grow
into a Larry Fitzgerald-like Heisman candidate if he can light
up some of the better teams.
20. C.J. Spiller, RB Clemson
... or James Davis.
Assuming Davis leaves early for the NFL, Spiller, a one-time
monster recruit for the program, should finally be able to show
off the speed and skill that made him such a promising star in
2006. He'll get all the carries to himself, but if Davis is
back, forget it.
19. LeSean McCoy, RB Pitt
The West Virginia game
only showed what the rest of the Big East already knew. McCoy
might be the best returning NFL running back prospect. He has it
all from speed, moves, and a little bit of power. He'll be the
18. DeMarco Murray, RB Oklahoma
Assuming he's able to
return from the knee injury that knocked suffered on special
teams in the loss to Texas Tech, he'll be a touchdown star for
the Sooners. Will he have his same speed and burst? That'll be
the question mark throughout the offseason.
17. Mark Sanchez/Mitch Mustain, QB USC
Fred Davis will be gone,
but Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton, along with a slew of
running back talent, to make the new Trojan starting quarterback
shine. Sanchez will have the experience, but Mustain is better.
16. Todd Boeckman, QB Ohio State
Not flashy by any
stretch, he'll be the triggerman for one of the nation's best
offenses. He has to cut down on his interceptions and will be
overshadowed by Chris Wells, but he'll be in the spotlight all
15. Colt McCoy, QB Texas
Interceptions became a
major problem in his sophomore season, but he had to fight
through a bad year from his receiving corps and the loss of top
target Limas Sweed. If he plays like he did as a freshman, and
if he can lead the Longhorns to a big start, he'll quickly
become one of the front-runners.
14. Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia
When you do things as a freshman worthy of being mentioned
in the same breath as Herschel Walker, you're doing something
right. He was one of the main reasons Georgia season became
special, and he'll be one of the SEC's signature stars going
into next year.
13. Ian Johnson, RB Boise State
On pace for a 7,000-yard
career, and with the name recognition that came from his
performance in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, he'll be on the
radar all season long. Playing for Boise State will keep him
from ever winning the Heisman, but that doesn't mean he can't be
12. Todd Reesing, QB Kansas
Can he be the
ultra-efficient triggerman of a top offensive attack again? He
might not be able to pull off a second straight near-flawless
season, but he'll get plenty of publicity and won't have any
problems with name recognition.
11. Jonathan Stewart, RB Oregon
A 50/50 call on whether
or not he'll be gone to the pros, the only thing holding him
back from superstardom, and the NFL, is his questionable
durablilty. If he can stay healthy game-in-and-game-out for a
full season, 2,000 yards won't be out of the question.
10. Rashard Mendenhall, RB Illinois
He'll have a decision to make on whether or not he's ready
to jump early to the next level. Averaging 6.23 yards per carry,
he has the speed to go along with the power to be a featured NFL
superstar. If he's back, he'll rumble for around 1,700 yards and
9. Jamaal Charles, RB Texas
If he doesn't bring his
breathtaking speed off to the NFL a year early, he'll get more
work in the Longhorn offense. He saved the season with his epic
fourth quarters against Nebraska and Oklahoma State, and if he
can do that for a full 12 games, he'll be in New York.
8. Ryan Perrilloux, QB LSU
The SEC Championship win
over Tennessee showed off just how talented Perrilloux is and
just how much potential there is for greatness. Now he has to
keep his nose clean off the field and has to make the tremendous
Tiger team his from day one in spring ball.
7. P.J. Hill, RB Wisconsin
He was one of the most
valuable players in the nation over the first half of the season
as he carried the Badger offense, and he'll get plenty of
chances, especially around the goal line. The big problem could
be traffic in the backfield with several other terrific running
backs in the rotation.
6. Chris Wells, RB Ohio State
When you light up
Michigan for 222 yards and two touchdowns, you get on the
national map. The talented focal point of the Buckeye offense
will be get plenty of chances to put up huge numbers with a shot
at 20 touchdowns and well over 1,500 yards.
5. Graham Harrell, QB Texas Tech
The statistics are too
amazing to ignore. While the world was focusing on Colt Brennan
and all he did at Hawaii, Harrell put up far better overall
numbers against better competition. The win over Oklahoma proved
he's more than just a product of a great system.
4. Chase Daniel, QB Missouri
The new star on the
national scene, he had the Heisman won, or at least he would've
finished second, if he had pulled off a great game in the Big 12
Championship against Oklahoma. He won't have all the same
weapons around him next year, but he'll be an experienced
triggerman who should put up the numbers to be in the chase
3. Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma
Ignored in the Heisman
race as a freshman, Bradford deserved more love as the nation's
most efficient passer. He won't have Malcolm Kelly, who's
certain to be off early to the NFL, to throw to, and he could
also lose Juaquin Iglesias, but he'll still have a great line to
work behind. It's OU. There will always be elite receivers
ready to step in.
2. Pat White, QB West Virginia
Assuming Steve Slaton
bolts early for the big league, White will be the signature star
of one of a national title contender. The question will be his
durability after getting knocked out in the losses to Pitt and
South Florida, but when he's on, he's as breathtaking as any
runner in America. He'll also have a devastating array of
receiver weapons to work with.
1. Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Tebow is becoming an all-timer of a superstar as
Superman will be the unquestioned leader of the likely preseason
No. 1 team. It'll be interesting to see how he matures and grows
as a quarterback with far more help to carry the workload; he
won't have the same numbers since he won't have to do it all
himself. USC transfer Emmanuel Moody will be certain to take
away touchdown runs, but that could mean Tebow turns into an
even more devastating passer. The Heisman will be his for the