The Heisman has been dominated of late by quarterbacks, especially those who operate in some type of spread offense. I expect the 2013 Heisman to also go to a quarterback and there’s a decent chance that a running back does not even crack the top 10 of the voting.
Only two running backs have won the Heisman since the new century began: Reggie Bush in 2005 and Mark Ingram in 2009. But the 2014 crop of backs looks strong and if one of them catches fire and produces a huge statistical season, he could break through to win the trophy.
Here are 10 running backs to keep an eye on next year (assuming none of them go pro):
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin – With James White leaving next year, Gordon should see more carries, which means he’ll once again be among the nation’s leading rushers.
Jonathan Williams & Alex Collins, Arkansas – These two could form the best running back duo in the country next season. They’ll both continue to gain a ton of yards in Brett Bielema’s running back-friendly offense, but if one of them emerges in the same way Montee Ball did for Bielema a few years ago, that back could make a run at the trophy.
Todd Gurley, Georgia – Gurley will be a leading Heisman candidate next year assuming he stays healthy. He’ll be more vital than ever to the Bulldogs since Aaron Murray will be graduating.
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor – Seastrunk said he wanted to win the Heisman this year but if he comes back for another go-around, he’ll have a much better shot.
Mike Davis, South Carolina – He’s already a better tailback than Marcus Lattimore. Maybe next year he’ll get one-tenth the hype his predecessor received.
Jeremy Hill, LSU – LSU’s program keeps churning out big, nimble backs and Hill is the latest. If the Tigers continue to improve their passing game, he’ll be the prime beneficiary.
TJ Yeldon, Alabama – Can Yeldon hold off the bevy of talented backs in Alabama’s rotation? If so, he should have a great junior year.
Thomas Tyner, Oregon – It’s only a matter of time before this uber talent starts churning out tons of yardage in the Oregon offense. He has the potential to gain 2,000 yards if he doesn’t get hurt.
Tre Madden, USC – The converted linebacker is on his way to a 1,500-yard season despite coming off a knee injury and getting his first-ever look at tailback in a real game. If the Trojans start winning again under a new coach, he has a chance to carry on the tradition of USC tailbacks in the Heisman race.