It may seem difficult to comprehend, but the college football season is less than 40 days away. Maybe it’s having grown up in Western Kentucky without a pro team of any kind within 150 miles, but I just love college sports. So I can’t wait for the Saturday’s to be filled with college gridiron action.
To whet the appetite of the college football fan, I will use this Lawson’s Eleven to give some Heisman trophy contenders. Instead of just spilling out the top players that every magazine has listed, I will try to give a couple of dark horse candidates (one with a little local flavor). By week 2 of the season this list may be in tatters, but I think most of these guys will put on a show this fall.
LAWSON’S ELEVEN HEISMAN CANDIDATES
11. Jared Crick Jr. DT Nebraska
I don’t really think he has much chance of winning, but he is a tremendous force on the defensive line. If he puts together any eye-popping numbers, he will at least gather a few of Ndamukong Suh’s residual support.
10. Michael Floyd Jr. WR Notre Dame
If Brian Kelly gets the Irish rolling this season, someone from Notre Dame will get at least a mention. Floyd is far and away the most exciting offensive player on Notre Dame, so it would be him.
9. Jacquizz Rodgers Sr. RB Oregon St.
The diminutive running back is flashy and productive. Two things that definitely help a Heisman candidacy. The only problem is he’s not the best running back in his own state.
8. Ricky Dobbs Sr. QB Navy
It is definitely a longshot, especially with the soft schedule Navy is playing this year; but I wanted to include a local guy. It certainly won’t be any Terrapins, but Dobbs deserves discussion, it isn’t just a throw-in. He is easily the best option QB in the nation. If Paul Johnson had him at Georgia Tech, I would consider them national title contenders. Dobbs shattered the QB rushing TD’s in a season record last year and could challenge that mark again. If you get a chance, head down to Annapolis (or M&T Bank on the 6th) to see him.
7. Terrelle Pryor Jr. QB Ohio St.
His numbers were not all that impressive last year, but he sure stepped up in the Rose Bowl. He will get plenty of chances to make noise in big games, if he performs and the Buckeyes win he’ll get votes in December.
6. Kellen Moore Jr. QB Boise St.
He is the one guy on the list, where individual stats are the least important part of his resume. His 3500 yards, 39 TD’s and 162 efficiency rating last year were impressive and he can duplicate it. It’s just he won’t be in NY unless Boise is 12-0.
5. Andrew Luck So. QB Stanford
All the talk out West is about Jake Locker, but I think the Huskies will finish about 4-8 ending any chance he has. Luck meanwhile, I think is possibly the best NFL prospect in the nation. He is more a drop back passer than Locker, but has some mobility, unlike Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet. If by some miracle he stays in school, he’ll be the frontrunner next year.
4. Case Keenum Sr. QB Houston
Many will argue that he’s only doing it against C-USA competition, and that will probably be what keeps him from winning the award. Either way you have to acknowledge stats like his. He threw for 5,671 yards and 44 TD’s last year. He has the receivers to do it again this year. What he must do is have his best games against UCLA and Texas Tech when everyone is watching and keep his interceptions to a minimum.
3. Mark Ingram Jr. RB Alabama
Only one man (Archie Griffin) has ever won the Heisman twice. That’s why I think someone like Ingram has to be even better than he was when he won it last year. The like that it’s tough to win it twice, so if he has a similar season, they’ll find someone else to give it to. I think he’ll have a big year, but sharing carries with Trent Richardson is going to make it tough to repeat.
2. LaMichael James So. RB Oregon
This is my main darkhorse candidate. He is getting some Heisman attention, but not a whole lot. Probably it is because of an off field incident that leaves him suspended for the first game. I think he’ll more than make up for it playing for the Pac-10 favorites against Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Cal, Oregon St, etc; during the rest of the season. The loss of star QB Jeremiah Masoli may hurt the Ducks team goals, but I think this will make them a more traditional run oriented squad. James will be used heavily and put up huge numbers. The December 4th Civil War pitting him against Rodgers could be the pivotal game in possibly making James the 4th Soph in a row to win the trophy.
1. Ryan Mallett Jr. QB Arkansas
I know Bobby Petrino got a bad rap nationwide after the Falcon fiasco, but as a Louisville alumnus, I know the man can coach. He can coach offense, and especially QB’s. During his tenure at Louisville, Stefan LeFors, Brian Brohm and Hunter Cantwell started games and all have claimed some sort of professional paycheck. Ryan Mallett’s talent eclipses all of those guys. Petrino will get even better production than last years 280 yards a game and 30 TD’s. He has what I believe is the SEC’s best overall receiving corps to haul in his passes, and because of the less than impressive Arkansas defense, he will be throwing to them constantly. His candidacy will take shape early. In the first half of the season Arkansas will play Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn. If he wins two out of those three, he’ll be a frontrunner. If he wins all three, he can start dusting his mantle.