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2009 Brutally Honest Heisman Breakdown
Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford
Forget about that Sun Belt running back who's putting up monster numbers. The star dual threat MAC quarterback doesn't have a shot. The Heisman goes to the best quarterback or running back from a top BCS team. Pete Fiutak puts his finger on the pulse of the chase in the 2009 Brutally Honest Heisman Breakdown.
Let's cut through the garbage, the
pomp, the circumstance, the PR BS, and the hype surrounding the greatest
individual award in all of sports. The Heisman Trophy goes to the most
celebrated quarterback or running back from a top BCS team or a top 25
non-BCS program, and while others will be acknowledged here if they have
any prayer of potentially finishing in the top five, it'll take
something extraordinary to get on this list. Let's not pretend the hot
Sun Belt back or the dual threat MAC quarterback has an honest chance.
Remember, Tulane's Matt Forte and UCF's Kevin Smith each ran for over
2,000 yards two years and weren't within 5,000 yards of winning the
Heisman. (They had to settle for becoming great NFL players and the
money that comes with it.)
This isn't a ranking of the best players or the top NFL prospects. This is
an attempt to put the finger on the pulse of the Heisman chase. So
without further ado, here are the current favorites AT THE MOMENT (and
this will change week after week with players moving in and out of the
No Current Chance To Win It, But Has Finalist
QB Matt Barkley, Fr. USC
This Week: At home vs. San Jose State.
The starting quarterback for USC is always on the preseason short
list, but John David Booty and Mark Sanchez weren't close to getting to
New York. However, Barkley is a better talent and he has a loaded team
around him. He'll throw too many interceptions, but he'll have a
spotlight game against Ohio State on September 12th and will be in the
hunt for a finalist spot if he can keep the Trojans unbeaten and in the
national title chase.
WR Dez Bryant, Jr. Oklahoma State
This Week: At
home vs. Georgia.
Last Year: 87 catches, 1,480 yards, 19
touchdowns, 17 punt returns, 305 yards, two touchdowns, four kickoff
returns, 100 yards.
Michael Crabtree wasn't in the Heisman hunt even with all of his big
numbers, so what chance does Dez Bryant have? The Cowboy star should be
the nation's best wide receiver and he'll have plenty of chances to
shine on national TV with battles against Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma
to highlight an interesting schedule. If Bryant is the difference maker
in wins over the top teams, and if he can come up with some big kick and
punt returns, he could shoehorn his way into the top four in New York.
QB Todd Reesing, Sr. Kansas
This Week: At home vs. Northern Colorado.
Last Year: 329-of-495, 3,888 yards, 32 touchdowns, 13
interceptions, 126 carries, 224 yards, four touchdowns
Reesing didn't get much Heisman love two years ago when he threw for 33
touchdowns and seven interceptions in KU's breakthrough season, and
while he threw for 32 scores last year, his season was seen as a bit of
a disappointment. With Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier back, Reesing has
a great pair of receivers to throw to and he could flirt with the
40-touchdown pass mark.
QB Zac Robinson, Sr. Oklahoma State
This Week: At home vs. Georgia.
Last Year: 204-of-314,
3,064 yards, 25 touchdowns, ten interceptions. 146 carries for 562 yards
and eight touchdowns
The ringleader for one of the nation's top
offenses, he'll have his chance to make a huge statement right away
against Georgia and he could start to be talked about in the same breath
as Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy. He'll have the stats, he'll run for
plenty of yards, and he'll have some monster games, but it'll all come
down to wins. If he's the star among the OSU stars, and if the Cowboys
get to the Big 12 championship, he'll be a finalist.
QB Tyrod Taylor, Jr. Virginia Tech
This Week: Alabama in Atlanta
99-of-173, 1,036 yards, two touchdowns, seven interceptions, 147
carries, 738 yards, seven touchdowns
He threw two, count them, two touchdown passes last season and he's
a Heisman candidate?! Maybe. A tremendous runner who had to split time
over his first few years, Taylor showed he could lead the way to big
wins with a scintillating performance against Boston College in the ACC
title game, even though his stats weren't all that great, and if the
Hokies can beat Alabama to start the season, he'll be the reason. If
Tech is in the national title hunt, there might be a grass roots
movement for Taylor as a finalist.
QB Juice Williams, Sr. Illinois
This Week: Missouri in St. Louis
Last Year: 219-of-381,
3,173 yards, 22 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 175 carries, 719 yards,
Everyone knows Juice can run, he has 2,050 career yards
with 14 touchdowns, but he has improved his passing by leaps and bounds
after struggling through his freshman season. He might have the best
receiving corps in the country to work with, led by future NFL
millionaire Arrelious Benn, and he should put up huge numbers. He'll
have to cut down on the interceptions and he'll have to prove he can be
a consistent winner, but he has the talent and the team around him to
lead the Illini to a second Rose Bowl in three seasons.
On The Radar, But The World Is Looking For
RB Jahvid Best, Jr. California
This Week: At home vs. Maryland.
Last Year: 194 carries, 1,580 yards, 15 touchdowns, 27 catches,
246 yards, one score
Marshawn Lynch and J.J. Arrington never came
close to the Heisman despite putting up huge numbers, but Best might
finally be able to bring the attention to Berkeley. He got a little bit
of national attention with a 311-yard, four touchdown day against
Washington and he should have several big games for a Cal team good
enough to win the Pac 10 title. There are two big questions: Can he stay
healthy, and can he produce against the top teams? He was held to 37
yards by USC last year and will have to come up big in a win over the
Trojans to have any shot at Heisman consideration.
RB Jonathan Dwyer, Jr. Georgia Tech
At home vs. Jacksonville State.
Last Year: 200 carries, 1,395 yards, 12 touchdowns,
eight catches, 209 yards, one touchdown
The sky's the limit for a top back in the Paul Johnson rushing
offense. Dwyer isn't just considered a good back in a quirky system;
he's a first round draft pick talent who should be a threat for 2,000
yards now that everyone knows what they're doing. He ran for 100 yards
in nine games, and while he was held in check by Virginia Tech,
Virginia, and LSU, he was steady. He'll have a few jaw-dropping games
with 200 yards or more and he should be among the nation's leaders in
yards per carry.
RB Kendall Hunter, Jr. Oklahoma State
This Week: At home vs. Georgia.
Last Year: 241 carries for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns, 22
catches for 198 yards and a score
Very fast, very productive, and very dangerous, Hunter is a threat to run
for 2,000 yards if he gets enough work. Oklahoma State will spread the
ball around and will be up early and often against most teams, but he'll
be a lock for 100 yards per game and he'll be the centerpiece of the
ground game whenever Dez Bryant isn't making big plays.
QB Jevan Snead, Jr. Ole Miss
This Week: At Memphis
Last Year: 184-of-327, 2,762 yards, 26
touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 60 rushing yards, three touchdowns
Ole Miss is the hot program coming into the season after a breakthrough
2009, and Snead is getting more than just attention at the collegiate
level. There's a groundswell of thought that he has the potential to
become the best NFL quarterback prospect going into the 2010 Draft, but
first he has to live up to the hype and make sure the Rebels play up to
the high expectations.
The True Favorites
QB Sam Bradford, Jr. Oklahoma
This Week: BYU in Arlington
328-of-483, 4,720 yards, 50 touchdowns, eight interceptions, five
Bradford put up ridiculous numbers as he led
Oklahoma to a record-setting season, but are voters going to be
interested in making him a two-time Heisman winner? If he does what he
did last year, then yes. At the very least, he should be a finalist and
he'll be in the spotlight all season long as a possible No. 1 overall
draft pick if he chooses to come out after his junior season. He might
have a new line in front of him and several new receivers, and he might
spend a lot of his time handing off to Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray,
but he'll have OU in the national championship chase all season long.
QB Terrelle Pryor, Soph. Ohio State
This Week: At
home vs. Navy.
Last Year: 100-of-165, 1,311 yards, 12
touchdowns, four interceptions, 139 carries, 631 yards, six touchdowns
And now he can throw. Given the keys to the car as a true freshman,
Pryor wasn't allowed to make too many risky throws and spent most of his
time making big plays with his legs. He spent the off-season working on
becoming a more polished passer, and while he won't be Sam Bradford
right away, he'll be a far more dangerous all-around weapon. It's not a
question of if, but when he becomes a superstar, and if he's able to
lead the Buckeyes to a win over USC, he'll be on everyone's short list
for the Heisman.
QB Tim Tebow, Sr. Florida
This Week: At home vs. Charleston Southern.
Last Year: 192-of-298, 2,746 yards, 30 touchdowns,
four interceptions, 176 carries, 673 yards, 12 touchdowns
Are voters going to want to make him a two-time winner? If he does what
he's supposed to do and he leads the loaded Gators to the BCS
Championship game, then yes. He has the legendary reputation, he has the
résumé, and he'll have the numbers to get the hardware. No, he won't be
a rushing star like he was two years ago, but he'll plow his way for
yards when he has to. The big question will be whether or not the
passing numbers stay as efficient without Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy
to work with.
And The Current Leader In The Clubhouse Is ...
QB Colt McCoy, Sr. Texas
At home vs. ULM.
Last Year: 332-of-433, 3,859 yards, 34 touchdowns, eight
interceptions, 136 carries, 561 yards, 11 touchdowns
Going into the season, McCoy is the odds-on favorite mainly because
it's his turn with Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford having already won the
Award. Texas is also the benefit-of-the-doubt team going into the season
after getting the short end of the stick in the Big 12 South and
national title shakeout. He's a good guy who's a favorite of the media,
he has carried the Longhorns with his legs as well as his arm, and he'll
have every opportunity to be the leader in the race all season long if
Texas keeps winning. Of course, if Sam Bradford and Oklahoma win the Red
River Rivalry, the campaign will be over.