Heisman Watch: 2014 Hopefuls
Football season is so close we can taste it, the NFL has just kicked off it’s training camp and we are a few short weeks away from starting the 2014 collegian season. Last year was nothing short of polarizing and if this season has even half the drama, then us football fans are in for a treat. When narrowing down this year’s Heisman Trophy candidates there are almost too many studs to pick from with talent coming from every corner of the nation. The last two winners have been freshman and 2013’s top player has returned to try and repeat for the first time in almost 40 years. So with out further adieu, the 2014 Heisman Trophy pre- season front-runners.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last year, Famous Jameis became just the second freshman to win the Heisman Trophy plus, he has a perfect season and a National Championship to go along with it. He had 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 10 picks last year but if history tells us one thing, it’s that repeating as college football’s best player is nearly impossible. Only one player in history has ever done that (Archie Griffin ‘74/’75). WR Kelvin Benjamin will be playing on Sundays this fall, which is a large loss to their offense but besides the lengthy wide-out, the Seminoles are returning most of their firepower. If anyone has the talent and bravado to repeat, it’s certainly Winston.
Marcus Mariotta, QB, Oregon
Most have the Oregon Ducks as a top 5 team in the country and a lot of that has to do with redshirt Junior Quarterback Marcus Mariotta. The duel threat quarterback comleted 63 percent of his passes for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns, and four interceptions, tack on his 715 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns and he made a solid case for the Heisman trophy last year. The Hawaiian native is the top projected pick in the 2015 draft and if he mirrors the kind of season he had in 2013, look for Mariotta to earn himself a big payday to go along with his Heisman trophy.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Many think that this guy is the best Quarterback in the country and the reason why I believe UCLA is going to make some noise this year in an absolutely loaded PAC 12. If Hundley had come out for the 2014 NFL Draft he would’ve been a top ten pick but he passed on a huge deal to come back to school, develop his game and challenge Winston/ Mariotta for the chance to be the top pick in 2015. Since Jim Mora Jr. took over the program two years ago he has thrived and in 2013, he threw for 3,071 yards 24 touchdowns and 9 picks. Adding to that production he ran for 748 yards and 11 touchdowns. If he can improve on those numbers in 2014, he will go from a dark horse Heisman candidate to a full on frontrunner.
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Georgia tailback has just been ranked the number one player in the South Eastern Conference by ESPN and for good reason. The 2013 numbers don’t jump out at you as he rushed for 989 yards and 6 touchdowns despite injuries but quarterback Aaron Murray is gone so Gurley will be the focal point of the offence this season. He’s Eddie Lacy with less ware on the tires, a straight workhorse who has the ability to shift the balance of power in the SEC.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
The landscape of college football is changing. Now, it’s all about the electric duel threat quarterback and Braxton Miller is the nations best. He threw for 2, 094 yards 24 touchdowns and 7 interceptions to go along with his 1,064 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, numbers that absolutely blow you away. Ohio State dropped it’s last two games of the 2013 season losing to Michigan State and Clemson which put a damper on an otherwise stellar campaign but Urban Meyer still boasts an undefeated regular season record and his team is improving every year. Braxton is the best player on what many can make a case for as the nation’s best team so he cannot be overlooked in the Heisman conversation. Plus, Ohio State will platy some cupcakes along the way which will help inflate some of his statistics.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
In my opinion, the Golden Bears Quarterback is one of the most underrated signal callers in college football and is another guy who could have made some money in the NFL by going pro but decided to give it at least another year at the amateur level. His numbers are near perfect throwing for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns and 3 interceptions a year ago and if he can improve on those, Baylor could certainly make it’s case as the best team in the Big 12.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
If Todd Gurely struggles with injury, Melvin Gordon will be become the nations most dynamic offensive weapon for the Badgers this fall. The junior back ran for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago and playing in a conference that loves the ground game, he is sure to get a lot of opportunities.