This Heismandment says that the winner needs to have good name recognition.
Obviously, a voter cannot vote for a player unless he or she knows who the player is. There are some players who become seared–seared–into the conciousness of the college football public. This is another reason why upperclassmen have a distinct advantage. They have been placed on the magazine covers, written up in the papers, grilled on radio shows and profiled on TV. Even a player who has not been entirely successful throughout his career has a distinct advantage–even bad publicity is publicity nonetheless.
A good example of name recognition being a major benefit came in 2003. Eli Manning, who placed third in the vote, had been touted as the latest in the line of great Mannings to play college football and had perhaps the highest name recognition of anyone in the race.
Manning did not have the statistical season that USC’s Matt Leinart had. But, since Leinart came out of nowhere, with little acclaim, he finished a distant sixth in the voting, well behind Manning. Had Leinart been coming off one year as a starter–even a mildly successful one–he would have finished well ahead of Manning.