HeismanPundit.com Watch List: 17 for 2010

Here is my early, early Heisman Watch list for 2010 (again, it’s my list of guys who have the best chance to actually win, not a list of how they will finish in the voting).  Some of these players are true darkhorses who nonetheless project well in the race due to who they play for and their career trajectory.

We’ll whittle this down as we get closer to next season:

(in no particular order!)

Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State–Rodgers is coming off a 1,377 yard, 21 touchdown, 74-reception season (with one game to go).  Has built up name recognition and his team has earned respect nationally, which should help his Heisman candidacy.

Jacory Harris, Miami–Struggled with interceptions as a sophomore but could make a big jump as a junior.  All the fundamentals–schedule, playing for a rising traditional power, name recognition–are in place for a Heisman run if he performs well.

Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State–Mega talent who will be a prime Heisman contender if he can put it all together.  Will Jim Tressel let him do his thing?

LaMichael James, Oregon–Pac-10’s freshman single-season rushing record holder (1,476 yards) plays in an exciting offense that piles up more yards on the ground than a car rented with an Orbitz promotion code, so look for an even bigger year as a sophomore.  Ducks will be highly rated and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to make a case.  Will miss first game due to suspension.

DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma–Murray has battled injuries but he’ll have one more year all to himself as Chris Brown has graduated.  The potential is there for a big season.

Kellen Moore, Boise State–The nation’s pass efficiency leader had an amazing 39 touchdown passes and just three picks in 2009.  Just a junior, his Heisman quest might be a three-year project.

Case Keenum, Houston–He’ll break the all-time NCAA passing mark set by Timmy Chang and that alone will keep him in the Heisman conversation.

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas–The SEC’s top quarterback threw 29 touchdown passes and just 7 picks as just a sophomore in 2009.  Imagine what he’ll do in year two leading Bobby Petrino’s high-octane offense!  He’s a potential first-pick in the draft who will mount a serious Heisman run in 2010.

Zach Collaros, Cincinnati–He showed that he could get it done while filling in for Tony Pike.  He threw for 1,434 yards with 10 touchdowns and just two picks with a rating of 195 as a sophomore.  He also rushed for 344 yards.  He should flower with a full year under center.

Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M–Johnson had a great junior year with 28 touchdowns and just six picks.  He also rushed for 455 yards.  Like Mallett, he’s a future top NFL pick who could challenge for the Heisman if he can lead his team to new heights.

Evan Royster, Penn State–Had a solid junior year, rushing for 1,104 yards following a 1,276-yard sophomore effort.  Could be primed for a big senior season as Penn State returns most of its line.

John Clay, Wisonsin–He had 1,396 yards and 16 TDs as a sophomore and he’ll also have a mostly intact line back.  Badger backs get yards and he might be the next to challenge for the 2,000-yard mark.

Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech–He had a huge freshman year, rushing for 1,538 yards and 19 touchdowns.  If he can top that mark and then some in 2010–and the Hokies win the ACC–he’ll be a prime contender.

Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech–He rushed for 991 yards and 18 touchdowns and threw for 1,689 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Forget about Dwyer, he’s the guy that makes Tech go.

Wait!  Where’s Mark Ingram?  Hold on there, Tide fans.  It’s not that I don’t think he can’t get some Heisman support–he probably will–it’s just that I don’t think he can win it again.  Why?  Well, it’s my belief that there will never be another two-time Heisman winner.   Dont worry, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford all pretty much got the same treatment from me after winning the Heisman and returning the following season.

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About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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45 Responses to HeismanPundit.com Watch List: 17 for 2010

  1. Glen Turner December 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    I don’t care what you said in the last paragraph. You made a list of 17 and Mark Ingram’s not on it.

    That’s #$*#ing ridiculous. No excuses will work with me.

  2. Heismanpundit December 17, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    You are pissed off just like Oklahoma, USC and Florida fans before you who were mad when I didnt put their guy who had just won on my next year’s Heisman list. Yet, they were all wrong and I was right.

    I will bet you any amount of money that Mark Ingram does not win the Heisman in 2010. Put your money where your mouth is.

  3. Travis December 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    What about QB John Brantley from Florida? He has the ability to put up monster stats at UF. Even being a back-up, he is well known in the SEC. He plays for a traditional Heisman power and national title contender (a team that will be in the spotlight.) The schedule will be challenging, but if he can run the gauntlet while putting up solid stats, his name will be there. He was also 2006 Gatorade player of the year in high school.

    I could be mistaken, but didn’t you put USC QBs on your list after all the experience they had was at back-up? Just because of the tradition and the prestige of the school.

  4. JMB December 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    Pitt’s Dion Lewis seems to be getting a lot of hype from several college football media types, after his big season and huge game against Cincinnati. He’s probably at least a darkhorse contender for the Heisman.

  5. Heismanpundit December 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    Travis, I considered Brantley, but I don’t think UF has the QB cache built up yet to be automatic candidates. USC had a run of Palmer, Leinart, Booty and Sanchez as either Heisman winners or national-level names, so that’s why I included the latest USC guys last year. If Brantley has a great career, I think Florida will be in that same boat and have guys who are automatic candidates, but not quite yet.

    JMB, I didn’t pick Lewis cus I think Pitt will take a step back next year without Stull at QB.

  6. Steve December 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    Thoughts on Washington QB Jake Locker’s chances?

  7. Glen Turner December 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    Hey, I’m not gonna bet on Ingram to win, of course not. Naturally the writers aren’t going to want to give it to the same guy twice, especially since it has only happened once and that was second-guessed plenty.

    So saying he’s not the favorite is something I would not argue with at all. But not on a list of 17? I stand by my earlier remarks.

  8. Glen Turner December 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Or to put it another way, give me some 17-1 odds and yeah, I’ll put my money where my mouth is.

  9. Heismanpundit December 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm #

    I’m not high on Locker due to Washington’s likely overall team record next year.

    Glen, I’ll gladly give you 17-1 odds.

  10. Clay December 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    What about Blaine Gabbert? The stats will be there, so doesn’t that throw Gabbert into mix IF he leads the Tigers to 10+ wins?

  11. Mike December 17, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    Earlier this year you seemed to be drinking the Tate Forcier Kool-Aide when he was in his first few games as a true freshman. What are your thoughts on him?

  12. Samuel McKewon December 18, 2009 at 11:28 am #

    Chris – Not a bad list, but, given the results this year, don’t you think it’s just a little negligent to completely ignore defensive players? There isn’t ONE defensive player worthy of a mention over, say Evan Royster, who didn’t even average 100 yards per game?

    Again – you’re supposed to be the expert on these matters. The vanguard. Not merely reflecting trends, but creating them. If voters casually come to your site to browse around, don’t you owe it to them to do more than simply throw out the names they’ve already thought of?

    Also…I think it’s time to retire the annual Joe McKnight campaign.

  13. HP December 18, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    Mike, I really like Forcier, but I think his team is a year away from being a factor.

    Samuel, this isn’t a list of guys who I think can finish fourth, but guys who I think can actually win. I don’t see any defensive players who can win, do you? Feel free to name them.

    And, no, my job is not to create trends, but to analyze them. A perfect storm in a weak Heisman year was able to produce a fourth-place finish by a defensive tackle. And I seriously doubt many readers thought of Zach Collaros or Graig Cooper for next year. As for McKnight, when the USC tailback position stops becoming an advantageous position in the Heisman race, I will let you know.

  14. TrojanFrosh December 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Any list that does not include Matt Barkley is incomplete. Barkley will put up monster numbers next year. Have you seen the receivers SC is recruiting? A Trojan will be bringing home the hardware next year, and I’m not talkin’ bout Joe McKnight.

  15. KLL December 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    Sorry, but this list is completely pointless. Of course any of these guys, or anybody in the nation, could win the heisman with a breakout season. Tell me why you think they can win it! I like the Josh Nesbitt pick, he runs the same offense as Eric Crouch in 2001 and had similar stats this year. He has a lot more talent around him than Crouch did though. Other good picks are Ryan Williams, LaMichael James, Case Keenum, and Kellen Moore. Joe McKnight is a completely random and ridiculous pick. He hasn’t even come close to living up to the hype he got coming out of high school (many thought he was the second coming of Reggie Bush). If guys like Graig Cooper, DeMarco Murray, Evan Royster, and John Clay are on your list, why aren’t guys like Roy Helu and Dion Lewis on here? These guys (especially Lewis) are more talented than any of those listed backs. Zach Collaros is a random pick and hasn’t shown hes heisman worthy yet, no reason to put him up there. Masoli isn’t overly talented either. And after what Ndamukong Suh (who should have won the heisman) did this year, it doesn’t make sense that you wouldn’t put a defensive player that had a breakout season on this board. Defensive players can have much more of an impact on a game than most “experts” think, as Suh proved several times the past 2 years. Oh, and even though you don’t think Ingram can win the heisman again, you still should put him up here. Ever heard of Archie Griffin? Griffin’s stats weren’t even as good in his senior year (1450 yards, 5.5 avg) as his junior year (1695 yards, 6.6 avg), and he won the heisman both years. This list is overall pretty poor in my eyes.

  16. KLL December 18, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    TrojanFrosh– Matt Barkley, seriously?? haha thats a joke. good luck with that. the Trojans will need a major improvement on their whole offense. I would be very surprised if Barkley even gets heisman consideration.

  17. Dave December 19, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Your list clearly demonstrates your own personal interest in looking “right” and maintaining whatever credibility you have as a Heisman pundit.

    The group-think you share with ESPN and similar media outlets not only diminishes the the prestige of the Heisman, it is also a disservice to players who play in positions other than QB, RB, and WR.

    The Heisman should be about heart and character, not pundits being able to say, “I told you so.”

  18. Mark Sturgis December 20, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    Go out on a limb there, why don’t you. If I am allowed to throw that much wet pasta against the wall, some of it is sure to stick. No Mark Ingram, no validity to this list. I do work with George Rogers, a Heisman Trophy winner, so I have a little clue of what the Heisman is about.

  19. Heismanpundit December 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    Dave, of course I want to be correct. Truth and accuracy should be the goal of anyone doing this.

    Mark, this is a very early list and I have a long history of going out on a limb. I believe that Mark Ingram will not win the Heisman again, so why should he then be on this list (and how is that not going out on a limb)? Great that you work with Rogers, but not sure how that means you have any special insight on the Heisman process. Feel free to start your own blog to explain all your special insights.

  20. Bucknut December 24, 2009 at 1:35 am #

    There will be another two time winner someday. Even Archie Griffin believes that.

  21. Mr. Williams December 31, 2009 at 3:42 pm #


  22. tom January 2, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    Andre Debose – Florida

  23. mike d. January 26, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Um, A.J. Greene is the best receiver in the country. He has to have a better QB than Joe Cox next year so he’s my heisman.

  24. Rick M April 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    “”I’m not high on Locker due to Washington’s likely overall team record next year.””

    Funny thing……the Heisman is supposed to go to the best CFB player. You would rather put kids like Zach Collaros, Jacory Harris, & Ryan Mallett on your list instead of Locker because Washington may not have a winning record? Yep……that’s the way it goes. Locker will be the #1 pick in the 2011 draft so his trophy will be a big check.

  25. MarkM June 4, 2010 at 12:33 pm #


    First of all, congrats on what was truly a phenomenal pick last year, considering how close it was between three or four players. You proved why you’re the best at picking the Heisman.

    I’m a Bama grad, and while I understand your logic behind not putting Mark Ingram on this year’s watch list, my guess is that he’ll be in the running. But I agree that if it was easy to repeat as a Heisman winner, it would have been done more than once.

    I believe Ryan Mallett will win the Heisman this year, although I think Alabama will probably shut him down as they did last year. (Yeah… naturally a Bama guy would say that.) But he’ll put up big numbers and you’re so right that he’s going to make a serious run.

    As for 2012, you might as well go ahead and pencil in Trent Richardson. With Ingram almost certainly heading to the NFL after this season, Richardson will run wild in 2012 behind the best offensive line in the nation. He could get 2,000 yards (and no, I’m not on crack. LOL)

  26. Mads July 12, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    As a Tide fan I’d like to see a Bama player win it again but I think you’re right. My main case against Ingram as a repeat winner is that I think he and Trent Richardson will split the carries more evenly leaving them both with respectable but not league leading numbers.
    Hopefully it will be a season of that old saying “Alabama players don’t win Heisman’s. Alabama teams win National Championships.”

  27. Phanistan July 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    No love for Christian Ponder? He’ll be putting up huge numbers with his entire O-Line returning

    • Heismanpundit July 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

      Ponder will be on the final list…same with Devine….this was just a pre-spring look at things.

  28. Dustin July 22, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    No kidding. Everyone and their mother is overlooking ponder. Going to be a big mistake for a lot of defenses if they decide to do the same.

  29. Scott Akers July 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Where the hell is Noel Devine on this list? I know that even the “blog media” is bias against the Big East and WVU, but even someone as bias toward my favs as the next guy can be honest when looking at rankings, etc.

    • Heismanpundit July 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

      Devine will be on the preseason list. This list was just a pre-spring watch.

  30. E July 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Devine will have a legitimate shot as long as WVU plays well. there’s no doubt that Devine will have a great year this year behind an experienced offensive line. He will be in the talks toward the end of the season as long as he has a good game at LSU which is very likely due to major losses on the LSU defense.

  31. Anonymous August 1, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    robert quinn, unc, best defensive end in college and broke Julius Peppers records for sacks as a soph and forty time at 4.5 (6’5, 270)

  32. Dallas August 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    While I agree with a majority of this list, I find some of them to be comical. For example, Josh Nesbitt is list over Dwight Dasher?? Dasher had 40% more rush yards than Nesbitt, 65% more pass yards than Nesbitt, and 8 more TDs than Nesbitt. Dasher averaged 300+ yards of offense per game in ’09. Watching the ACC’s defeneses last year, it’s not like Nesbitt was carving up the toughest Defs in the country. I may be incorrect, but I think Ga Tech plays Middle Tennessee this year. If so, we can see the 2 face off and see who really deserves to be mentioned for Heisman.

  33. badgerfan August 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    dude, you seriously have gotta recheck where you get your information from. your either pulling it out of your ass or god knows what. john clay had over 1500 yards as a sophomore with tds, get it right.

    • Heismanpundit August 4, 2010 at 2:11 am #

      This post was written before the bowl game. The stats I quoted then were his pre-bowl stats. So, no, it is not out of my ass–you just weren’t paying attention.

  34. badgerfan August 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    18 tds *

  35. beatman007 September 6, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Mallet had 30 touchdowns last year. If you can’t even get stats right, why are you writing an article?

    • Heismanpundit September 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      The article was written in December before the bowl. Calm down.

  36. Brett October 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    where is Taylor Martinez of Nebraska on this list? he’s a true redshirt freshman quarterback for nebraska. alhoug his passing stats aren’t impressive he is breakin all of nebraska’s quarterback rushng records including 2000 heisman QB winner Eric Crouch from Nebrasaka. need i say more? and a HUGE dominant win with 4 touchdowns and 230+ somthing rediculous yards rushig and a 79 yard TD pass.


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