1 Jameis Winston– Florida State. Nobody has won back to back since Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974 and 75. Winston will easily go into 2014 as the Heisman Trophy favorite. The only things that could stop him are injury, a poor year by either Florida State or by Winston. Considering what all FSU has coming back, I don’t believe the Noles will have a bad season, but you never know. I’ve gone through Winston’s stats so many times that I practically have them memorized. Let’s just say he threw for a lot of yards and a lot of TDs and they won a lot of games. It will take a miracle to keep Jameis Winston from going back to back. Then, no matter what he is saying now, he is off to the NFL and the big bucks.
2. Marcus Mariotta– Oregon. Mariotta is a talent that just came around at the wrong time. Oregon is never going to get the attention of the Eastern media as somebody playing in the SEC or the ACC even. Mariotta runs like a deer as witnessed by his nearly 1500 yards rushing. He has the arm type that the NFL will love and has over 6000 career passing yards. Between running, passing and receiving he has 78 career TDs. Not too bad.
3. Brett Hundley– UCLA Hundley has been most ignored by the media, but the NFL scouts know all about him. Both Mariotta and Hundley shocked the nation by coming back for their junior seasons knowing fully well that they would have been top choices. Hundley is not as fast as Mariotta, but he is a great runner and proficient as a passer. He has over 6800 career yards passing and has run for 1100 yards. He has 74 career TDs. Interesting that both Mariotta and Hundley each have a TD receiving.
4. TJ Yeldon– Alabama Seems like the state of Alabama always has a RB or a QB in the Heisman race and last season they had both in AJ McCarron for Bama and Tre Mason for Auburn. Yeldon comes back for his junior year and has 2343 career rushing yards and 26 TDs. He only has 31 career catches for 314 yards so that won’t help him much.
I do wonder if he will lose carries this season with the emergence of talented Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry. Yeldon is big and strong at 6-2,220, but Henry is even bigger at 6-3,240 and possibly even faster than Yeldon. Henry is the guy that finally broke the Sugarland Express Kenneth Hall’s 50 + year old national rushing record.
5. Bryce Petty-Baylor. Petty finished 7th in last year’s voting. He now returns for his senior season after throwing for 4200 and 32 TDs a year ago. Most impressive stat may be that he only threw 3 INTs in 403 attempts. All this in his first and only meaningful college football playing time. Knowing his coach, Art Briles’, history there’s not much of a chance he fizzles next season and his terrible. Will he finish better than 7th? Maybe a notch or two.
6. Braxton Miller– Ohio State. Miller will be a 4 year starter for the Buckeyes and he finished 9th in last year’s race. He’s never really put up huge numbers but he did manage to throw for 2094 yards and 24 TDs in 2013. Not great stats but he did miss 3 games due to injury.
His passing numbers aren’t great, but he did rush for 1,068 yards and 12 TDs. A lot of odd things would have to happen for Miller to win the Heisman Trophy.
7. Nick Marshall-Auburn. Nick Marshall had a fantastic junior season as he helped Auburn upset Alabama and win the SEC title. The Tigers came within seconds of winning the national championship against Florida State in a knuckle biter of a game. Marshall threw for 1976 yards last season and 14 TDs, and he ran for 1068 yards and 12 more TDs. He is a team leader and has been working on his passing game. Plus, he has everybody back from last season plus JC super star transfer Duke Williams. Expect Marshall to still run for over a 1000 yards, but throw for around 3000 in a much better senior season.
8. Todd Gurley- Georgia Gurley had a tough time last season with injuries, but still managed to rush for 989 yards. As a true freshman in 2012 he had 1385 yards and 17 TDs. In my opinion, Gurley is the top Running Back in the country. Top contenders are almost any Alabama Running Back and freshman to be, Leonard Fournette. This will no doubt be Gurley’s last season in Athens, so expect a big push for the Heisman.
9. Leonard Fournette– LSU Nobody predicted Johnny Manziel would win it 2 years ago and nobody picked Winston last season, so I am looking for another surprise winner. Also, the last two winners have been freshmen, so why not another. Fournette will be a freshman and is the top Running Back recruit and the top overall recruit in the entire country. Fournette is ripped and has the size and the speed much like a Bo Jackson or a Herschel Walker from the days of old. LSU lost their top 2 Running Backs from last season, so not only is Fournette the top RB recruit in the country, but he is walking into the ideal situation in Baton Rouge. The Tigers only have 2 RBs left on campus. Fournette should have a huge year and be an instant star. Will his year be big enough to win the Heisman Trophy? Probably not, but there’s always a chance with a talent like this. His coach often loved to go with a 5 wide offense with no tailback and Leonard played Wide Receiver in those sets and he catches the ball really well, also. Great overall player and should be SEC freshman of the year and more.