Curt's Heisman Hopefuls for the 2012 College Football Season
Written by Curt Popejoy on 06/05/2012
I tell myself every year that I am not going to do this. And every year I do it anyway. I’ve voiced my opinion about the “value” of the Heisman Trophy many times so I will save the keystrokes. But in my old age what I have come to understand is that it has its place in college football, just as bowl games do.
And looking at the potential candidates this year, it’s really an intriguing group. So much talent, especially at quarterback and so many teams with their eyes on BCS success. I’ve done my best to narrow it down to my top 12 frontrunners for next season; some of which are going to have to count on their teams to help them by winning some games when they are racking up big numbers. Now, I understand that some of these names are long shots, but go back and see how many pundits had Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman at the start of last season. A huge run by a player like Geno Smith or James Franklin, and more importantly their teams win, and they will become the darlings of the media that RGIII was last year.
1. Matt Barkley, QB USC-The frontunner. USC is going to be good. Like top 2 good. And a big part of that will be the arm of Barkley. He passed up on early entry to the NFL and returned to school, I assume to try and win a National Championship. Barkley is a fabulous talent and assuming the Trojans can keep winning, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be a finalist.
2. Aaron Murray, QB Georgia-So goes the SEC, so goes Murray. I thought Murray would explode last year, but it didn’t really happen. And as long as you have the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide it’s going to be really tough for Georgia to win an SEC Title regardless of how well Murray plays. But the Bulldogs schedule is very winnable, the SEC title game is very possible and would be a huge feather in Murray’s cap.
3. Denard Robinson, QB Michigan-I feel like if I don’t include Robinson on the list, I will miss out, but sure as I include him, he will continue to underwhelm. For every remarkable play he makes, he makes one that makes Wolverine fans want to chuck a heavy object at their television. I don’t think he is consistent enough to win all season, but on his side, the game he figures to look the worst, against Alabama, is the season opener so he will get a bit of a pass for it.
4. Landry Jones, QB Oklahoma-Jones game is infuriating for Sooner fan. Trust me I know because I am one. But with the Heisman trophy being centered around the best quarterback on the best team, Landry will almost certainly be among the top. And statistically he’ll have great eye candy for voters. But don’t be shocked if Landry doesn’t win, and it’ll be because of his own team. Backup QB Blake “Belldozer” Bell hawked 13tds that could have easily gone to Jones in the passing game last season. Jones will need to show he can produce in the red zone this season.
5. Collin Klein, QB Kansas State-If you didn’t see Kansas State play last year, you missed out on one of the most exciting and productive players in the country in Klein. I think for him to be in serious contention for the Heisman, two things must happen. First, the Wildcats need to win the Big 12, and second, Klein is going to have to have success throwing the ball more. Klein had twice as many carries as he had completions and twice as many rushing touchdowns as passing.
6. Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas-Before all the craziness of the Razorbacks offseason, I’d have put Wilson much higher. But things have gotten pretty tenuous in Fayetteville with a new coach and minus his two favorite targets from last season. I love Wilson’s NFL potential and think he’ll still have a great season, but their schedule is brutal, even with home and home against LSU and Alabama.
7. Marcus Lattimore, RB South Carolina-If you are a running back and you want to win the Heisman in this day and age, you better do something special. One sure fire way Lattimore or Montee Ball, my other back on this list would be to go out and break Barry Sanders single season rushing record of 2,628 yards. But assuming neither Lattimore or Ball can average the 200+ yards per game, you have to win, and you have to put up gaudy numbers particularly in big games. Lattimore, assuming he’s healthy will throw the gamecocks on his back all season long.
8. Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin-Ball, like Lattimore is poised to have a tremendous season. He was 4th in the voting last season, but this year’s competition is going to stiff. He’s going to need a record breaking type of year, a definite improvement over last year, to be in late season consideration.
9. Geno Smith, QB West Virginia-I include Smith for a couple of reasons. First he’s very talented. Second, he’s in a very pass friendly offense. And third, the Mountaineers are in their inaugural season of the Big 12, where passing defense doesn’t always bring it. Smith is going to have plenty of high profile games on the schedule and might just pull and RGIII this year.
10. Logan Thomas, QB Virginia Tech-Thomas is a massive man, and a massive talent who I think is poised for a huge breakout this season. I mean like Cam Newton type breakout season. It’ll all be up to the Hokies to win a soft ACC and make it because of Logan.
11. James Fanklin, QB Missouri-Much like Collin Klein at K-State Franklin’s season went largely unnoticed. That’s probably because Missouri lost 5 games. Welcome to the SEC where wins will be even harder to come by. Franklin has Heisman type talent, but the Tigers just aren’t a good enough team to carry him through the season.
12. Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson-Another talented signal caller with fabulous numbers never in the mix last season because of 4 losses. If Clemson can’t be more successful in terms of wins and losses it won’t matter if Boyd improves on his 4,000+ total yards of offense and 39 total touchdowns.
Finalsts-If I were picking a top 3 right now who will be there at the end it’s Barkley, Lattimore and Jones. All 3 are on high profile teams and will put up ridiculous stats. But in the final analysis, I think this is Barkley’s trophy to lose.USC is going to crush the PAC-12 and he’s going to be on the front page every Sunday morning. But don’t be shocked if some of the other guys on this list push hard to end up in that top 3. You have a different Top 3? Come find me on Twitter at www.draftboardinsider.com/nfldraftboard and let me know who your Big 3 are for the Heisman Trophy this year.
Last Edited: 06/05/2012