Here is the Heismanpundit preseason Top 13. This is not the order of the voting, but the guys who have the best shot at winning.
1. Matt Leinart
Strengths: QB on No. 1 team, traditional power, massive media exposure, great name recognition, QB-centered system, likeability.
Weaknesses: May have to fight letdown perception if he doesn’t top last year’s numbers.
Conclusion: If Leinart ends up anywhere near his numbers last year, when he had 3,500 yards, 38 TDs and only 9 Ints, he’ll win the award as long as USC is at or near the top spot.
2. Darren Sproles
Strengths: Senior, name recognition, plays for good team, exciting, should get more carries with Roberson gone, exciting player, likeable, and will get a Heisman campaign–a first in Manhattan.
Weaknesses: His team could struggle with Roberson gone. Will he last the season now that he’s the workhorse?
Conclusion: He’ll need to run for 2,000 yards and have Leinart mess up, but that could easily happen. If so, he’ll win.
3. Cedric Benson
Strengths: Senior running back on traditional power, has a lot of career yards, good name recognition, on TV, should put up 4th 1,000 yard season.
Weaknesses: Not flashy. Could get sunk if Texas loses to OU again.
Conclusion: If he runs for 1,700-plus yards and Leinart and Sproles screw up, he’ll win it.
4. David Greene
Strengths: Senior QB on title contending team, good name recognition, could become the “SEC Candidate”, likeable, has put up good numbers before.
Weaknesses: Not flashy. Plays in a system that may not give him the numbers he needs.
Conclusion: His fortunes will be governed by the success of his team. If Georgia makes the Orange Bowl, he’ll be a top 5 candidate guaranteed. If things fall right and he has a good season, he can win.
5. Brock Berlin
Strengths: Senior QB on title contender, traditional power, name recognition, on TV a lot.
Weaknesses: Has a shaky hold on the starting job. Hasn’t produced before.
Conclusion: Some may argue with this pick, but if he has a great season (no small task), the fundamentals are there for a Heisman run.
6. Chris Rix
Strengths: Senior QB, on a title contender, traditional power, name recognition, exciting player, puts up good numbers, on TV a lot.
Weaknesses: Not likeable. His fragile psyche could do him in.
Conclusion: Rix is almost in the identical situation as Berlin, with most of the same advantages. He is more exciting and athletic than Berlin, but seems not to be very likeable, which is a major demerit.
7. Brad Smith
Strengths: Name recognition, puts up good numbers, exciting.
Weaknesses: Plays for Missouri.
Conclusion: He’s going to put up good numbers and he is a known quantity. He will need to pass for 2,000, run for 1,000 and win the Big 12–and hence be a title contender, most likely–to have a shot.
8. Carnell Williams
Strengths: Senior running back, known quantity, coming off a good season, likeable.
Weaknesses: Has been fragile in the past. May share some carries with Ronnie Brown. Team may or may not be that good.
Conclusion: Needs to rush for 2,000 yards or so to have a chance. Not likely to do so.
9. Skyler Green
Strengths: The only multi-threat receiver in this race. Will be dazzling on returns. Plays for title contender and is on TV a lot.
Weaknesses: Not much name recognition. May not put up great numbers. At the mercy of his quarterbacks.
Conclusion: A real long shot.
10. Anthony Davis
Strengths: Senior tailback, good name recognition, puts up good numbers.
Weaknesses: Plays for lackluster team, hurt too much.
Conclusion: Everything would need to fall in place perfectly and he must rush for over 2,000 yards.
11. Aaron Rodgers
Strengths: Could put up great numbers in the Cal system. Also a recognized pro prospect. Cal could be a darling in the media this year.
Weaknesses: Not much name recognition. Plays for Cal.
Conclusion: Needs to beat USC and lead Cal to undefeated season.
12. Marion Barber
Strengths: Plays for up and coming team that could sneak into top 5 if lucky. Has put up good numbers and continue to do so.
Weaknesses: Plays for Minnesota. Shares carries with guy who may be better.
Conclusion: Needs for Maroney to get hurt. If that happens, he could have a huge year and get the credit for the Minnesota rise.
13. Vernand Morency
Strengths: Should put up huge numbers.
Weaknesses: Plays for Oklahoma State, no name recognition.
Conclusion: If he tops 2,400 yards, he’ll win the Heisman.