Jumping out early, I’ll play the role of fashion show judge. I’ve lined the models on the stage, and I’ll break down why they made my list, along with why each won’t win it. Of course, someone has to win, but I’ll allow you to make that early prediction.
Tim Tebow, QB, Forida- How could I not put the current Heisman winner on the list? Just the fact that he has the stiff arming figure in his trophy case should make him the front runner. In 2007, Tebow was the ultimate college football weapon. When it came to scoring in multiple ways, no one else was better.
Why he won’t win: For the same reason he is the front runner, is the same reason he won’t win. You can duplicate your Heisman winning numbers, and still not win the award a second time (See Matt Leinart). What was good enough in ‘07, certainly won’t be good enough now, unless someone else is doing it. If the Heisman comes down to a tight vote, Tebow becomes victim of the “We gave it to him last year, so let’s reward this guy” philosophy.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech- If Crabtree plays out his career at Texas Tech, he will possibly leave with every NCAA receiving record. There wasn’t a more consistent receiver in 2007. And though some will say he’s benefiting from a system, wouldn’t that also hold true for Jerry Rice? Rice turned out to be pretty damn good.
Why he won’t win: Receivers are dependent on the quarterback, and will have fewer touches per game than some other teammates. Realistically, QB Graham Harrell has a better shot of winning the award. Receivers that have won the Heisman usually have a secondary duty, such as return specialist (See Tim Brown and Desmond Howard). This adds to additional moments in the spotlight. He can be great on one play, but another 10 plays may go by, before he touches it again.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia- Moreno begins the season positioned well. His team will likely be preseason No. 1 in the majority of polls. And if not, Georgia shouldn’t be any lower than No. 2. He also expands his stage, with the Bulldogs traveling west to Tempe. If any of my fellow west coasters haven’t had an opportunity to watch the kid run, they really need to check him out, because it’s pretty damn sweet. With his Western tour and his many high profile SEC contests, this model may spend more time on stage than any of the others.
Why he won’t win: The same helping schedule is a hurting schedule for Moreno. Too often, team success becomes more of a factor than the individual performances (See Arkansas’ struggles and McFadden’s early 2007 fade from the Heisman running). If Georgia can survive their schedule, we can scribe Moreno on the Heisman today. But unfortunately, if other favorites manage to have more team success, it unfairly penalizes this redshirt Sophmore.
Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri- He was on the Heisman stage last year, so why not invite him back? Daniel lost twice to Oklahoma in 2007, and his Tigers will miss the Sooners in the regular season, which is a plus. But he won’t dodge the Longhorns in ’08, and a great performance in that game is a must. He also has the season finale against the rival Jayhawks, before setting up a possible meeting with the Big 12 South winner in the title game.
Why he won’t win: Daniel won’t win, because how can you receive the nation’s most outstanding player award when you’re not even the best in your conference. The Big 12 may arguably have the best group of quarterbacks in the country, and Daniel will more likely be receiving fewer headlines than Harrell, Bradford, and McCoy.
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma- Jason White won it, Adrian Peterson came close, and now enter the next Sooner Heisman hopeful. Bradford was in the ’07 running, until OU lost a couple of games they should have won. The early season explosion of stats was soon forgotten, when Sam lost to Colorado, and then again to Texas Tech.
Why he won’t win: Bradford is in the same position as Daniel. OU won’t play a regular season game against Mizzou, but it will be important for Sam to outperform McCoy, Harrell, and Reesing in the 2008 meetings.
Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State- Beanie is in great shape. Of all the contenders in this year’s class, he was the last to perform on a football field, where he did well in the BCS title game. His memory is most fresh, even in a losing effort. With Mendenhall and Hart now in the NFL, Wells is possibly looking at towering in stardom over the lesser known Big 10 runners.
Why he won’t win: The Sep. 13 trip to Los Angeles will be crucial to Beanie’s Heisman hopes. Win or lose, against USC, he needs to perform well. Mendenhall’s Rose Bowl performance against the Trojans gave him a boost from “very good” draft prospect to “first round, and top 3 in the running back class”. Following the game against the Trojans, the Buckeyes stage is dimly lit. It has bookends of spotlight games, so somewhere in the middle he may get lost among the other big name buzz across the nation.
Joe McKnight, RB, USC- It would be crazy to not have a running back from tailback U on the Heisman watch list, especially one being called the “second coming” of Reggie Bush. Mcknight has all the tools to become one of the next great Trojan running backs, and had a year to mature in Steve Sarkisian’s offense. He brings an added bonus, by also utilizing his skills in the return game.
Why he won’t win: Pete Carroll is running a tailback by committee offense, and this will limit the touches for Joe McKnight. Sharing the ball with Marc Tyler, Stafon Johnson, and C.J Gable will make it difficult to be a standout in any game. Unless he can guarantee highlight reel performances on every carry, he’s going to be viewed as just “one of many” running backs at USC. He’ll also be running behind a very inexperienced offensive line, and he’ll go as the line goes. 2009 would actually be a better Heisman projection for Joe.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh- Is anyone still seeing the name and asking “who”? McCoy is one of the best kept secrets in college football. His team’s greatest 2007 achievement was the upset of West Virginia, and though most can quickly pick out Pat White from a group, few can identify McCoy or even tell the number he wears. I’m expecting big things in ’08 from this super Soph, but who knows how many people will actually see it.
Why he won’t win: The panthers don’t get enough exposure. Unless he puts up astronomical numbers, 2008 will be a very good but quiet year. Ray Rice, Kevin Smith, and Matt Forte rushed for over 2000 yards In 2007, yet not one of them was a Heisman finalist. Rutgers had some exposure, but Pitt would rank with Tulane and Central Florida, as far as media spotlight goes. Trying to select McCoy for the award, with little exposure, would be similar to selecting the prettiest girl in a beauty contest, and one is dressed in a Burqa.
Pat White, QB, West Virginia- Pat White and the Mountaineers demand your respect. They arrived quickly, and they haven’t left. They’ve more than held their own in the biggest games, and despite the coaching change, look to be preparing for another BCS run. White’s speed and agility can conquer most defenses, leaving only a question of his arm.
Why he won’t win it: If the committee is choosing between dual threat quarterbacks, White’s overall stats are going to be compared to Tim Tebow. Although he may be the most electrifying player in college football, in a comparison of both passing and running stats, he may fall short of the current Heisman winner. Last season, the worry was that teammates (White and Slaton) would pull votes from each other. This year, watch out for Noel Devine.
Sleepers- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida; Amanti Edwards, QB, Appalachian State; Ian Johnson, RB, Boise State, Max Hall, QB, BYU