It’s time again this year to start watching the Heisman Trophy stock. Last year, we had Baylor’s Robert Griffin III at the top of our Heisman list very early in the season, but obviously not before he had a couple of breakout performances. This year, the list is going to start off with a very familiar name, but after him, it’s open competition. It’s my Heisman philosophy that you are “innocent til proven guilty” meaning that if you are at the top of this list, you either have to lose your spot or someone at the same position has to play miles better than you. So, without any more delay, here is your 2012 Heisman race.
1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
USC’s senior signal caller is back, and presumably better than ever. The Trojans open up with an easy one against the Hawaii Warriors, and Barkley should continue where he left off last year. At the end of last season, I would have argued there was no team in the country playing as complete as the USC Trojans, and Barkley was leading the charge. Now, his weapon shelf is not only re-stocked, but it got a nice new addition with former Penn State running back Silas Redd. He is the clear front-runner to win this year’s Heisman Trophy.
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Obviously I like Montee Ball, but I think Geno Smith is finally going to emerge in the national spotlight now that West Virginia is out of the Big East no-man’s-land. Smith has been wildly productive over the last couple of years for the Mountaineers, and hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves. I think Smith could go for 50 passing touchdowns this year if he stays healthy with the weapons he has at wide receiver.
3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Ball should have been at least the Heisman runner-up last year. I was really upset with whoever decides that kind of stuff after Ball finished with nearly 2000 rushing yards, 33 rushing touchdowns, 24 receptions for 306 yards and six more touchdowns, and a touchdown PASS to now starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson. I think Ball proved last year he could do it all, and he was the most dominant back in the country, but he didn’t get the Heisman recognition. Now that Wilson is gone, how is Ball going to get any more attention from Heisman voters? I think he is a great player but his window has closed.
4. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Robinson may be the best dual-threat quarterback in the country, or at least one of the best running quarterbacks out there. Robinson needs to improve his passing significantly if he is going to win or compete for the Heisman, but he has a great stage to do that in the first week against Alabama. If he can take advantage and propel Michigan to an unlikely upset, I think he becomes one of the front-runner’s for the Heisman trophy this year.
5. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Michigan State may not be big in the national spotlight for too long without a high profile quarterback like Kirk Cousins, but on a national stage on Friday night, Le’Veon Bell let it be known that he is in this Heisman race too. He tore Boise State apart, carrying the ball 44 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and he also caught six passes for 55 yards, picking up blitzes and doing a little bit of everything along the way. An impressive performance to kick off the season, to say the least.
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