Marcus Mariota: QB, Oregon
Mariota was the Heisman frontrunner for most of 2013 before fading down the stretch, suggesting he definitely has the potential to win the award. The athletic junior passed for over 3,600 yards last year and threw 31 touchdowns. Although he has to work on his consistency as a passer (3 games last season completing under 50% of his passes), he makes up for it with almost one rushing touchdown per game. The high powered spread offense around Mariota is of course enormously talented, and tailored almost perfectly to his skill set. Mariota will post Heisman numbers this season, but his campaign will hinge, as per usual, on big wins and big moments. He probably won't be able to win the Heisman if he loses a game, except a BCS playoff game.
Jameis Winston: QB, Florida State
|"We strong:" They certainly are this year|
Bryce Petty: QB, Baylor
Last year's first time starter dropped a casual 4,200 passing yards with 4 interceptions. Not a typo there. At the helm of a shiny and outrageous Baylor offense, which averaged 52.4 points per game, he went to a BCS bowl game and suffered a disappointing loss. Unfortunately, Petty's competition probably won't prove stiff enough to merit a Heisman award, but at one point his stats may speak simply for themselves. In a new stadium, with an upcoming team, Petty is definitely a player to watch this year.
TJ Yeldon: RB, Alabama
Yeldon isn't found close to this high on most lists, but most arguments against him hinge around one point: He has many talented backs behind him, and if his fumbling issues rear their ugly head early in the season, he may not get enough carries to fuel a Heisman campaign. This isn't really a legitimate argument, as that can be said about many players, regardless of depth chart. I hereby concede that yes, if Yeldon fumbles the ball a lot, he won't win a Heisman. That isn't rocket science, nor is it exclusive to the running back from Alabama. He is also vying for a national championship, which means a lot when considering this award. Ultimately, he will prove to be an offensive focal point for possibly the best team in the country, which screams Heisman candidate.
Count on seeing a lot of that this year.
Brett Hundley: QB, UCLA
He moves, he passed for over 3,000 yards, he leads his team well, (a team which may be contending for the first time ever) and he isn't yet a finished product. He also has the strength of schedule to present the potential Heisman moment, notably against Oregon in week seven. All this means I'd be foolish not to put him on my list. While the hype was a little overdone last year, it wasn't that far off the mark. Definitely a player you'll hear a lot about this season, and in a great conference he should have his share of the limelight.
|Dashing, there's no other word for it.|
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
"He's athletic, and they lost Aaron Murray so he'll get tons of carries." Both of these are true, but this is a distinctly lame argument. He was also injured last year, which allows people to point to his decent numbers and say they suggest greatness. He'll play well, but he won't win, or stay in the conversation late.
Braxton Miller: QB, Ohio State
Again, injuries shouldn't insert players into this conversation. He hurt his knee and as a result missed 3 games, but 2,094 passing yards, even over that a shorter interval, does not suggest a Heisman winner. Of course he runs well, and plays for a good team, but the prediction I have seen of 2,500 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards and 40 combined TD's lies entirely outside the realm of likelihood, in my opinion. However that would probably win the Heisman this year.
Mike Davis: RB, South Carolina
Another great player who won't win a Heisman. Steve Spurrier will rely on him heavily this season, but he's coming off an injury last year, and didn't post spectacular numbers. He's definitely explosive, but we have to be wary of pointing to on field flashiness as a predictor of a Heisman award. He needs great numbers, and probably won't get them. I will say that of these three, I can most easily see Davis staying in the conversation late.