Oh, what a wonderful Heisman race

mariotapetty

I admit to preferring some Heisman races to others over the years. As much as I love the Heisman selection process, it’s true that some campaigns have fallen short in the drama category, while a couple others have left a bit of an aftertaste, so to speak.

But I’m bullish on this year’s Heisman race to this point, mainly because it features the most varied and talented field in recent memory. I’d rate these candidates over the stellar groups from 2008, 2009 and 2011.

First, consider the quarterbacks:

The current front runner, Marcus Mariota, is in the third year of a highly-productive career at Oregon and his dual-threat abilities are being drooled over by NFL types.

Notre Dame’s Everett Golson, who led his team to the BCS title game in 2012, is back after a year’s hiatus and appears to be vastly improved. Heisman races are always better with an Irish quarterback involved.

Baylor’s Bryce Petty is back for another run at the trophy after finishing seventh in the voting last year. Outside of reigning champ, Jameis Winston, he’s the highest-returning finisher from last year.

Two SEC talents — Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott — have been remarkably productive in the first third of the season and could be primed to make a serious run at the trophy.

BYU’s storied quarterback tradition has returned in the form of the exciting and rapidly-improving Taysom Hill.

Meanwhile, a host of highly-productive signal callers are resting on the periphery of the race, including UCLA’s Brett Hundley, East Carolina’s Shane Carden, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato, Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel and Auburn’s Nick Marshall (among others).

But I think the pool of running backs is what’s making this year’s race truly special.

Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon could each approach or surpass the magical 2,000-yard rushing mark. Abdullah is on pace to finish his career as Nebraska’s all-time leading rusher — and that’s saying a lot– while both Gurley and Gordon are likely first-round picks in the next NFL draft.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s bull-like James Conner has rushed for more yards through five games than any back in school history, including Tony Dorsett.

We’ve even got a wide receiver making noise in this race, as Alabama’s Amari Cooper leads the nation in receiving yardage per game.

Given the overall strength of the field, I’ve a feeling no one is going to run away with this year’s trophy. We’re likely to see several dramatic twists and turns, with momentum shifting back and forth from one candidate to another. The winner might even be determined by a single play.

By December, I think voters won’t have to decide if most of these guys are worthy of the Heisman. That will be self evident. Rather, the issue will be determining which player is the most worthy.

As usual, that player will be the one who’s performance best captures the spirit of the 2014 college football season. But to come out on top against this particular field, that player will have to end up being truly special.

For those of us who love the Heisman and college football, this bodes well for the coming weeks.

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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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