The recruits from the high school recruiting class of 2013 are getting ready to sign their letters of intent on Wednesday.
Not all of them are going to live up to their lofty recruiting rankings this season. Some will take time to adjust to the rigors of college life and go on to redshirt. Some will find ways to contribute as backups or on special teams. Others will be pressed into action due to injuries. Only a select few will become stars this fall.
Here at Heismanpundit.com we are always on the lookout for future Heisman candidates, so it’s a tradition of ours to try to pick out the players from each recruiting class who best fit that bill. It’s an inexact science, but in 2007, we had a guy named Cameron Newton on our list. Here are our picks from 2008, 2009, 2010 , 2011 and 2012.
It’s important to remember that not every recruiting class will produce a Heisman winner, or even a Heisman candidate. Johnny Manziel was from the class of 2011, while Robert Griffin and Mark Ingram were from the class of 2008. Cam Newton was in the high school class of 2007. As of yet, the classes of 2009 and 2010 have been somewhat devoid of serious candidates. In other words, it’s possible that Heisman glory passes over this group.
Selecting the candidates is not as simple as checking off some 5-star players from the recruiting sites.
First off, we narrow the list down to quarterbacks, running backs and multi-purpose athletes. No matter what anyone says, you can forget about tight ends, linebackers or linemen winning the trophy.
Second, we assess the abilities of the players in question. Do their skills translate to the next level? How quickly will they make an impact? Do they have the physical measurables and the intangibles needed to succeed?
Third, how well does the player fit into the system in which he will be playing? Does his team’s system produce the numbers needed to win a Heisman?
Let’s see what’s in store for this year’s class, along with a few of their highlights. Keep these guys on your radar and expect at least one of them to make a strong run at the Heisman within the next four years. Here they are:
Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon — Tyner is the fastest running back in this class, with a 10.43 in the 100 meters to his credit (10.35 wind-aided) when he was just a sophomore. What’s rare about him is that he has elite speed despite checking in at 6-foot-0, 210 pounds. How many 210-pound running backs with 10.4 speed fail at football? Mix in the fact that Tyner will be toting the rock in the wide-open Duck offense and you have a guy who should be extremely productive in college.
Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M — Hill is an exciting dual-threat quarterback who dominated against quality competition in high school. His senior year stats look a lot like what the current Aggies quarterback produced: 3,369 passing yards with 27 TDs, plus 1,421 yards and 33 rushing touchdowns. He’ll sit for a couple seasons, but he’s the favorite to follow Johnny Football as the next star in Kevin Sumlin’s system.
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State — If Braxton Miller doesn’t win the Heisman, it might be Barrett who does so down the road. He’s a perfect fit for Urban Meyer’s offense and, while perhaps not as explosive as Miller, he’s a bit more athletic and has better size.
Chris Johnson, QB, Baylor — By now we should realize that whoever plays quarterback for Art Briles is going to put up some pretty good numbers. Johnson, however, is a 6-foot-5, 222-pound physical specimen who should look extra impressive in doing so. He has the potential to be a 3,000/1,000 quarterback for the Bears.
Derrick Henry, Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones, RBs, Alabama — It’s really hard to single out any one of these three future Crimson Tide backs, since they are all elite talents. Henry is the most intriguing prospect of the bunch, with rare agility and quickness for his size (6-foot-3, 240 pounds). He could potentially move to another position if the backfield becomes too crowded. The diminutive but thickly-built Jones has the potential to be the best true breakaway back for Bama in years, while Tenpenny combines speed, balance and size in a manner similar to current Tide star T.J. Yeldon. Whoever breaks away from this pack will be Alabama’s next Heisman-contending back.
Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas — The No. 1 running back in the class according to 247Sports should flourish in Brett Bielema’s run-heavy attack. He’s got good speed and size to go with his elite vision and change of direction. Look for him to get a ton of carries sooner, rather than later.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina — Ohio’s Mr. Football should eventually become the centerpiece of the North Carolina offense. Trubisky, 247’s top dual-threat quarterback, can kill you with his arm or with his feet (he had 53 combined touchdowns as a junior) and he’ll give ACC defenses headaches for years to come. He’s already enrolled at Chapel Hill.
Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn — Johnson is a 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback with a cannon for an arm and excellent running ability. Last we checked, Gus Malzahn did pretty well with that combination and Johnson is a perfect fit for the Tiger scheme.