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The HeismanPundit 2014 Heisman Trophy Watch List (Post-Spring Edition)

Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston highlights the first edition of HeismanPundit’s 2014 Heisman Trophy Watch List released on Tuesday (May 6).

The prestigious annual list gives football fans an early glimpse at a great crop of Heisman contenders for the coming season. This year’s post-spring watch contains 25 players. HeismanPundit will consider other players for the 2014 Heisman Trophy Watch List and will also delete players as the season progresses.

The Heisman Trophy, presented annually since 1935, is the most prestigious award in sports.  It is named after famed college football coach John W. Heisman. The 2014 winner will be announced in New York on Saturday, Dec. 13.

The 2014 HeismanPundit Post-Spring Heisman Watch List

(in alphabetical order)

Ameer Abdullah, RB, SR, Nebraska

Javorius Allen, RB, JR, USC

Rakeem Cato, QB, SR, Marshall

Alex Collins, RB, SO, Arkansas

Mike Davis, RB, JR, South Carolina

Everett Golson, QB, JR, Notre Dame

Melvin Gordon, RB, JR, Wisconsin

Todd Gurley, RB, JR, Georgia

Christian Hackenberg, QB, SO, Penn State

Derrick Henry, RB, SO, Alabama

Taysom Hill, QB, JR, BYU

Brett Hundley, QB, JR, UCLA

Chuckie Keeton, QB, SR, Utah State

Trevor Knight, QB, SO, Oklahoma

Sean Mannion, QB, SR, Oregon State

Marcus Mariota, QB, JR, Oregon

Nick Marshall, QB, SR, Auburn

Braxton Miller, QB, SR, Ohio State

Bryce Petty, QB, SR, Baylor

Thomas Tyner, RB, SO, Oregon

J.W. Walsh, QB, JR, Oklahoma State

Jake Waters, QB, SR, Kansas State

Jonathan Williams, RB, JR, Arkansas

Jameis Winston, QB, SO, Florida State

TJ Yeldon, RB, JR, Alabama

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An early Heisman list for 2014

bryce-petty-baylor-bears-heisman-watch

Jameis Winston’s reign as the 2013 Heisman winner is less than 24 hours old, but it’s never too early to start thinking ahead.

Who are the front runners for the 2014 Heisman?

Here’s an early top 10 list based on the information we have now. We think most of these players should be back in 2014. If so, they should enter next fall as serious contenders for the Heisman:

in alphabetical order

Melvin Gordon, Jr., Wisconsin* — With backfield mate James White graduating, Gordon could be set for a monster season in Madison, if he chooses to return for his junior year. He had 1,466 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging eight yards per carry in 2013.

Todd Gurley, Jr., Georgia — When healthy, Gurley might be the best running back in the country. His combination of size and speed are impressive. He rushed for 903 yards and 10 scores and caught 30 passes for five more TDs despite missing three full games and parts of others.

Brett Hundley, Jr., UCLA* — As a sophomore, Hundley had over 3,400 yards of total offense and 31 touchdowns with a very young supporting cast around him. Those players will be a year older and it should result in excellent production for Hundley if he chooses to return.

Myles Jack, So., UCLA — Jack was the Pac-12 freshman of the year on both offense and defense. Heisman voters love throwback players who excel on both sides of the ball — see: Woodson, Charles — and assuming he continues to play both running back and linebacker, he’ll get lots of attention.

Marcus Mariota, Jr., Oregon — Mariota was the Heisman front runner for a large chunk of this season. Losses to Stanford and Arizona knocked him out of the race, but he should be better in 2013. If he can finally get Oregon past Stanford, he’ll probably make a trip to New York.

Nick Marshall, Sr., Auburn — No quarterback in the country improved as much as Marshall did over the course of this season. His 2014 campaign could begin by leading the Tigers to a national championship in January.

Tre Mason, Sr., Auburn* — If Mason chooses to return for another season, he’ll join his teammate as a front runner for 2014. He finished sixth in the Heisman vote this season while rushing for 1,621 yards and 22 scores.

Braxton Miller, Sr., Ohio State* — Miller might’ve won the Heisman this year if an injury hadn’t forced him to miss the better part of three games. Assuming he returns for his senior season, he’ll probably be the early Heisman favorite. He is 24-1 as a starter in the past two seasons.

Bryce Petty, Sr., Baylor — Petty finished seventh in the Heisman vote after throwing for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns with just two interceptions while leading Baylor to the Big 12 title. He could have even better numbers as a senior and, assuming Baylor is again a national title contender, he’ll be in the Heisman conversation.

Bishop Sankey, Sr., Washington* — Sankey is very quietly putting together a brilliant rushing career for the Huskies. He’s got 3,401 yards and 35 touchdowns in three seasons and was third in the country this year with 1,775 yards and 18 scores. If he chooses to come back for another season, he should really flourish in Chris Petersen’s system

T.J. Yeldon, Jr., Alabama — Yeldon notched his second-straight 1,000-yard season despite being limited in some games by an ankle injury. With the Tide set to break in a new quarterback, he could become the main weapon for Alabama in 2014.

* – could enter NFL draft

Wait, what about Jameis Winston?

I don’t have Winston on this list because I believe there will never be another two-time winner of the Heisman. Archie Griffin of Ohio State is the only player to do it, way back in 1974-1975. Since then, Ty Detmer, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford and Johnny Manziel have all failed in their attempts to repeat. The fact that players like Leinart, Tebow and Manziel couldn’t get it done points to how difficult it is to win two trophies. The Heisman electorate is very fickle and, as we saw with Manziel, the punditry tries its best to find reasons not to give away that second Heisman.

Everything has to fall perfectly into place just to win the award once. Winning it twice?

Forget about it.

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Marcus Mariota returning for 2014

mariota

One-time 2013 Heisman front runner Marcus Mariota of Oregon has decided to bypass the NFL draft and return for his junior season in 2014, the school announced on Tuesday.

Mariota passed for 3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four interceptions and added 582 yards and nine scores on the ground on his way to being named the first-team All-Pac-12 quarterback for the second-straight season.

He was knocked out of Heisman contention in November as Oregon dropped games to Stanford and Arizona.

Mariota will likely finish in the top 10 of this years’s Heisman balloting and should be considered one of the front runners for 2014, along with Braxton Miller of Ohio State and Bryce Petty of Baylor.

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An early short list of 2014 Heisman candidates

We are almost done with picking the 2013 Heisman, which means it’s time to start thinking about 2014.

Too soon?  Nonsense!

Here’s my short list:

Braxton Miller*

Jameis Winston#

Marcus Mariota*

Bryce Petty*

Brett Hundley*

Kevin Hogan

Nick Marshall

Melvin Gordon*

Mike Davis

Todd Gurley

T.J. Yeldon

Duke Johnson

# — If Winston wins the Heisman this year, he won’t win next season, per tradition

* — player could go to the NFL draft after this year

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Next year’s running backs and the Heisman

collins

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.

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