Winning the Heisman isn’t always about wowing the voters, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Over the years, we’ve see races pivot on an electrifying punt return or a dramatic late-game run.
In that spirit, I thought I’d list the most exciting players in college football for 2011. They may not win the Heisman Trophy, but they could make a run at it based on their innate ability alone.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan – The first third of last season was a joy to watch primarily because of the weekly stylings of Robinson. He’s simply the fastest player ever to play quarterback full time. He can break a big run on every play and he is dangerous through the air, too. It’s kind of sad to think he might be reined in a bit this season, but I’m sure he’ll create plenty of electrifying plays anyway.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State – Not since Marshall Faulk has an Aztec back lit things up the way Hillman did last year. No wonder they were calling him a poor man’s Reggie Bush coming out of high school. The freshman had 15 runs of 40 yards or more, including four of more than 70 yards.
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska – Martinez made it look so easy at times during the first half of last year. He’d make one read and suddenly he was off to the races. You certainly couldn’t look away or chances are you missed a touchdown. Or two.
Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois – This mighty-mite is going to be fun to watch for the next three years. As a freshman, Scheelhaase performed quite admirably for the Illini and showed he was a threat both running and passing. He has a flair for the big play when all seems lost.
Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State – The Seminoles haven’t had a back this exciting to watch since Warrick Dunn. Every time I looked up, it seemed like Thompson was ripping off a huge run and, indeed, he did have 16 runs of 40 yards or more last year.
Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson – Ellington, a true breakaway threat, missed much of the last half of the year, but still totaled 11 runs of 40 yards or more after seven games. C.J. Spiller who?
Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor – Griffin is a world-class hurdling talent who uses his considerable athleticism to gain yards through the air and on the ground. He has made Baylor football fun to watch again (if it ever was).
B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida – The next time you see Daniels start to scramble around in the pocket, feel free to grab a fresh beer because, by the time you return from the kitchen, he’ll still be running around. He loves to improvise.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon – Anyone who saw his video game-like run against Tennessee last year knows what James can do. He’s built low to the ground and has excellent speed, so you never know when he’s going to squirt out of a pile and into the clear.
Robert Woods, WR, USC – When Woods–a rising sophomore–gets his shoulders squared to the end zone, he’s like a gazelle. He can take that short pass and turn it into a long gainer. Plus, he’ll wow you as a kick returner.
Keenan Allen, WR, California – Allen did it all for Cal last year as a freshman. He scored touchdowns running, passing and receiving and was also a threat as a return man.
Jeff Demps, RB, Florida – Personally, I find it very exciting to see perhaps the fastest man in the history of college football toting the rock. His speed is out of this world.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia – It’s rare that a conventional quarterback makes this kind of list, but there’s something magical about Murray’s ability to move around the pocket, buy time and then throw a perfect ball on the run. You can’t teach that.
Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas – The Razorback receiving corps is loaded, but Adams is the most fun to watch of the bunch. He is creative with the ball in his hands and can score any number of ways.