It may seem like Kelvin Benjamin just came down in the end zone to give Florida State a national championship win over Auburn but in reality, training camps will open across the country in just a couple of months. While I’ll be certainly going over national title contenders throughout the summer, today I’m giving you a very early look at the favorites for college football’s biggest individual award.
In my own personal view, the Heisman Memorial Trophy has become relatively meaningless these days. I say that because no longer does the award truly honor the nation’s best college football player. Instead it honors the nation’s best player on the best team or at the very least, one of the best teams. Certainly a candidate for the Heisman Trophy should be on a good team, but many of the country’s greatest players are often overlooked because of their position an because of the poor surrounding cast.
I hope that changes some day and I just might suggest this is the year for it to happen. Read on won’t you?
Jameis Winston, FSU QB, 5/2 – Reigning Heisman Trophy Winner Jameis Winston’s biggest threat will be himself. He can ill-afford any more legal issues because already people are hammering at Florida State for their continued protection of his behavior. On the field, Winston must deal with the loss of Benjamin, plus his top two running backs.
The schedule is a tad more grueling that last year as well with a neutral site game to open the season against Oklahoma State plus road games at NC State, Miami and Louisville. The Noles will also have to play Clemson, Notre Dame and Florida at home.
Braxton Miller, OSU QB, 11/2 – Miller’s biggest enemy in 2013 was himself as injuries plagued him throughout the season. Should he be able to stay healthy all season then his chances to win the Heisman run parallel to those of Winston. Miller will no longer have Carlos Hyde in the backfield and the defense has many members to replace as well.
The Buckeyes have home dates with Virginia Tech, Big Ten newcomer Rutgers and rival Michigan. Away games include a rematch with Michigan State, a trip to Penn State and a first-ever conference game at Maryland.
Marcus Mariota, Oregon QB, 11/2 – The Ducks’ signal-caller will enter the 2014 season as the NFL’s highest rated QB prospect because of his ability to both run and pass with power and accuracy. While top offensive weapons like D’Anthony Thomas are gone, Oregon will reload and provide Mariota with plenty of skill guys. The problem facing Mariota is his location. Can he generate enough buzz on the West Coast to be a factor?
The Ducks have just two road trips between their opener on August 30th and October 12th. Home dates include Big Ten Champion Michigan State, Arizona and Stanford. Road trips include visits to UCLA and Oregon State. The schedule actually sets up pretty good for the Ducks.
Bryce Petty, Baylor QB, 10/2 – Let’s get right to it with Petty. His Bears must travel to Austin, Norman, Morgantown and Lubbock. Petty will put up big numbers in Coach Art Briles’ offense but his team is not goo enough all-around to get him to New York.
Todd Gurley, UGA RB, 12/1 – Since 1998, only three running backs have won the Heisman Trophy (R. Williams, R. Bush and M. Ingram). That stat alone should drip Gurley significantly. Also throw in the fact that he’ll have to deal with a quarterback not named Aaron Murray and it could be a tough year for Gurley.
The guy to keep an eye on… Myles Jack, UCLA LB 33/1 – Linebackers typically have no shot but consider Jack’s contribution to the Bruins’ offense last year. If that happens again and UCLA is having a big year, then watch his candidacy rise drastically.