2009 Spring Preview - The Heisman Candidates
Kansas QB Todd Reesing
Kansas QB Todd Reesing
Posted Mar 31, 2009

It might be Tim Tebow's Heisman to lose, Colt McCoy might be a half-step behind, and Sam Bradford is almost guaranteed to be a finalist. Who else is going to be in the race? Along with Todd Reesing of Kansas, here are the top candidates besides the Big 3 in the CFN 2009 CFN Spring Preview.

Spring Preview 2009

The 20 Big Questions ... No. 2

By Pete Fiutak 

Spring Preview 2009
20 Big Questions

- No. 3 - The good players about to go nuclear
- No. 4 - The pain-in-the-butt team in each league
- No. 5 - The pressure will be on ...
- No. 6 - The major unit issues
- No, 7 - Ranking the leagues

- No, 8 - The teams that could tumble

- No, 9 - The teams that could surprise

- No, 10 - The 10 coaches who must win now
- No, 11 - Is the SEC worth the hype?

- No. 12 - Will the Pac 10 finally get some respect?
- No, 13 - The top BCS. vs. non-BCS games

- No. 14 - Why no Big East love?
- No, 15 - Does the Big Ten suck?

- No. 16 - Was the Big 12 exposed?

- No, 17 - Just how good is the ACC?
- No. 18 - Are we any closer to a playoff?

- No, 19 - Potential BCS Busters

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1 to 10)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11 to 20)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21 to 30)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31 to 40)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41 to 50
With spring ball underway, here are the 20 Big Questions to start off the offseason.

2. Ten Heisman candidates besides the Big Three.

Tim Tebow might be the odds on favorite to give his current Heisman a friend, Colt McCoy might be the winner if he can lead Texas to the national title game, and Sam Bradford will likely be a finalist, even if it’ll take something extraordinary to win his second straight award. However, there’s a great chance someone else will crash the party in New York in early December and be in the finalist mix. Here are the top Heisman candidates besides the Big Three.

Dez Bryant, WR Oklahoma State
Michael Crabtree couldn’t break the Heisman barrier and get to New York even though he was a two-time Biletnikoff winner and put up ungodly numbers. So how does Dez Bryant stand a chance to be in the Heisman race? It’s a long shot, but he had a far better yard-per-catch average than Crabtree (17.01 yards to 12.01), finished third in yards per game (behind BYU’s Austin Collie and Rutgers’ Kenny Britt, who both left early for the pros), and tied Crabtree and was second behind Rice’s Jarett Dillard in touchdown grabs with 19. If he can catch 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns again, and do it on a big stage, he’ll be on several Heisman ballots.

Jahvid Best, RB California
J.J. Arrington ran for 2,000 yards and didn’t come within 500 miles of the Heisman hunt. Marshawn Lynch was one of the best running backs in the nation and he wasn’t a blip on the radar. Will Jahvid Best finally give Cal and the Pac 10 some long overdue respect? Step one will be to stay healthy, and step two will be to produce when the spotlight is on in early games against Maryland, at Oregon and USC. If he rocks in those three games, the nation’s leading returning rusher will be the media darling in the Heisman chase. Last year he ran for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns, highlighted by a 311-yard, four score day against Washington. However, he was held to 30 yards by USC and 25 by Maryland. The sure-thing top 15 draft pick will get his chances to get into the race, and even though he’ll be keyed on, he should produce.

Daryll Clark, QB Penn State
The numbers won’t be there without all the star receivers he had last season, but Clark’s worth goes beyond statistics. He’s a tremendous leader who might be the Big Ten’s version of Tim Tebow with ten rushing touchdowns last season to go along with an ultra-efficient passing season. He should be able to lead the Nittany Lions to a huge start and a top five spot (assuming others start to fall by the wayside) with a relatively easy schedule until November. Going to Illinois won’t be a walk in the park, but Penn State should be 9-0 if it plays up to its talent level. And then comes the home game against Ohio State with all the world watching. Clark got knocked out of last year’s win over the Buckeyes, with Pat Devlin needing to lead the way for the victory in the fourth quarter, but he’ll be the third man on everyone’s ballot if he can carry the offense and the team to another huge season.

Jimmy Clausen, QB Notre Dame
Brady Quinn was a fringe Heisman candidate, but he was never really a threat to win the award even after all the team’s success. Clausen might not be Quinn, but he’ll have the Notre Dame spotlight and the receiving corps to put up the numbers and the wins to be in the hunt for the big prize. He showed in the 22-of-26, 401-yard, five touchdown win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl that the offense has the potential to blow up, but the only chance of being in the Heisman hunt will be to come up with big wins. That means a big day at Michigan, a home victory over Michigan State, and most importantly, a tremendous performance against USC on October 17. Last year, Clausen completed 11-of-22 passes for 41 yards with two interceptions in the embarrassing loss to the Trojans, and he didn’t play against them in 2007. It’s not a stretch to say Clausen is the key to the future of Notre Dame football and the job status of Charlie Weis. Now he’ll get to show whether or not he’s worthy of all the hype.

Max Hall, QB BYU
September 5 vs. Oklahoma. That’s it. That’s the Ty Detmer vs. Miami moment to start the season that could kickstart a Heisman campaign. If Hall struggles like he did against Utah and Arizona to close out last season, and/or if BYU loses, then move along with the Heisman discussion. If Hall is the Hall of the non-TCU first 11 games of 2008, and if BYU beats Oklahoma, then things could get interesting. BYU will be a huge underdog and isn’t good enough to pull off the win, but if Hall comes up with a huge game and comes up with the upset, BYU will get the campaign rolling.

Mitch Mustain/Aaron Corp/Matt Barkley, QB USC
John David Booty and Mark Sanchez were never in the Heisman hunt during their years, so it might not be a lock to assume the USC starting quarterback, whomever it is, will be an automatic candidate. That could all change on September 12th when the Trojans go to Columbus to play Ohio State. It’ll be a tough road to get to New York with back-to-back road games against Cal and Notre Dame, and another road date against Oregon, but the Trojans will almost certainly be the favorite in every game. Big stats would be nice, but just leading the way to an unbeaten season will likely mean a spot in New York for … ? That’ll be the big question at USC this off-season with Mustain, Corp and top-recruit Berkeley all fighting for the job.

Terrelle Pryor, QB Ohio State
There’s a reason the guy was the subject of all the scrutiny of the 2008 recruiting season. Pryor doesn’t have his top receivers (Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline) to throw to and he doesn’t have Beanie Wells to hand off to, but that should only mean he gets the chances to do more on his own. He’ll get more room to free-lance, even for a Jim Tressel team, and he’ll get to run even more. Expect plenty of highlight moments and plenty of face time on SportsCenter, but as it is with all Heisman candidates, it’s all about what he’ll do in the big moments. If he’s great against USC on September 12th and leads the way to a win, then it’s Heisman spotlight time. He’ll have one other huge national spotlight moment in early November at Penn State.

Todd Reesing, QB Kansas
With so much turnover in the Big 12 North, with Missouri and Kansas State rebuilding, Colorado still trying to find its way, and Iowa State starting over again, the division’s spotlight game will be Nebraska at Kansas on November 14th. By then, Todd Reesing and the Jayhawks will have already played Oklahoma at home and will have gone on the road to face Texas Tech, and there will still be games against Texas and Missouri to follow. In other words, Reesing will have plenty of big chances to make a Heisman statement and put up the big numbers needed to get in the race. With Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier returning after combining for 189 catches for 2,452 yards and 23 touchdowns, this should be a huge year for the KU passing game even with the killer schedule.

Jevan Snead, QB Ole Miss
Ole Miss will have a great record and will be high in the rankings all year long. The best player on the team might be DE Greg Hardy, who’ll lead a defensive line that should be the primary reason for all the success, but the Heisman is about the top quarterbacks and running backs. Jevan Snead threw way too many interceptions last year (13) and his numbers weren’t all that great, but he led the way to wins over Florida, LSU and Texas Tech. This year, his stats should be solid but his record will be phenomenal because of the schedule: at Memphis, SE Louisiana, at South Carolina, at Vanderbilt, Alabama, UAB, Arkansas, at Auburn (who’s still reloading), Northern Arizona, Tennessee, LSU, and Mississippi State. Almost all the tough games are at home, and there will be just enough nationally televised moments for Snead to shine.

C.J. Spiller, RB Clemson
This will be the longest of long shots considering backs like Knowshon Moreno and Javon Ringer weren’t even a thought in the in the Heisman race last year, but with James Davis off to the NFL, Spiller has the Clemson backfield all to himself and could come up with a massive season. He was hurt last year and was held to just 629 yards and seven touchdowns (with three against Citadel), but when he was right, he was a difference maker. The offensive line is suspect, there’s a new starting quarterback, and Spiller has to prove he can stay through a full season, but there’s a shot he could make a Ringer-like jump up in production. If nothing else, he’ll be considered among the top backs, and the top players, for the 2010 NFL Draft.