With all the early entry candidates announced, here’s how I see the Heisman race shaping up right now. These are the guys who I think have the best chance to actually win the Heisman:
1. Colt McCoy, Texas–He was last year’s Heisman runner up and was about 2 seconds away from winning it (before he was foiled by Crabtree and Tech), so I can see Heisman voters giving him prime consideration this season. It helps that guys like Jordan Shipley and Malcolm Williams are back to catch his passes and, no doubt, he’ll still be getting some yards with his feet as well. Also, the Longhorn schedule is favorable and they could well go undefeated.
2. Tim Tebow, Florida–He could become the Grover Cleveland of the Heisman, winning the trophy twice but in non-consecutive seasons. Voters obviously have tremendous respect for the guy, but let’s not forget that Tebow fatigue is a real issue and voters tend to gravitate toward the fresher face.
3. Jahvid Best, Cal–The nation’s most exciting running back, he’ll put up highlight run after highlight run. If he stays healthy–a big if–a 2,000-yard season seems feasible. The biggest hurdle that voters will be watching for: How he does against USC.
4. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State–He showed his talent against Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, when he nearly led the upset. I can see him coming back next year as a better thrower, which will make him even more dangerous. He’s got a big early game with USC to establish his Heisman credentials.
5. Daryll Clark, Penn State–He showed he was a big time player in his first season as a starter and he should continue to grow in 2009. If he can lead the Nittany Lions to another Big Ten title, he’ll get some Heisman acclaim.
6. Jevan Snead, Ole Miss–The talented quarterback of a hot, up-and-coming team, he could be like Eli Manning, who finished third in the Heisman for the Rebs in 2003 and then was the first pick in the draft.
7. Joe McKnight, USC–His place here is more the result of his potential rather than his production. No player at USC has been hyped more in recent seasons, so if he ever lives up to it, he’ll reap the rewards of being a Trojan tailback.
8. Noel Devine, West Virginia–With Pat White gone, the spotlight is all on Devine. He quietly had a 1,300-yard sophomore season. Look for him to make a big jump as a junior.
9. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State–A very efficient passer and nimble runner, he could be all that stands in between Texas/Oklahoma and a possible undefeated season. As underrated as they come in college football.
10. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma–If anyone is going to win two Heismans, I’d think it would be Tim Tebow, not Bradford. It will be hard for Bradford to duplicate his success of this past season, what with four of OU’s linemen departing. He’ll be in the conversation for the Heisman–especially early–but winning it is a long shot.