The Way Too Early Heisman 2014 Race
The college football season is only a few months away, and the Heisman race will begin in Week 1. As we’ve seen the last two seasons, the Heisman winner could come from anywhere. Two years ago Johnny Manziel won the award after not even being assure of the starting job until right before the season started, and last season Jameis Winston won after being a complete unknown at the beginning of the Florida State season. This may prove this is all for nothing, but part of the fun of it is predicting the unpredictable. Let’s take a closer look at the early candidates for the 2014 Heisman.
The reigning Heisman winner has to be the front runner, even with his off-field issues. Winston threw for 40 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards in his freshman season and is poised to only get better this year. Florida State does an excellent job of protecting the quarterback, and Winston is also mobile in the pocket to help create space to get better throws off. The award is Winston’s to lose, and if FSU goes undefeated into bowl season once again he’ll likely have to make space in his trophy cabinet for one more.
The Georgia running back is a long shot, but he’s got the talent to make a big impact in the SEC this season. Gurley rushed for less than 1,000 yards in 2013, but had an average of 6 yards per rush and 10 TDs. In 2012, Gurley was able to rack up 1,385 rushing yards and 17 TDs and was looking like a Heisman hopeful. Now that Aaron Murray is no longer in Athens, the brunt of the Bulldogs offense will be back on the big running back’s shoulders.
Hundley would have been highly sought after if he had entered the NFL draft after his redshirt sophomore season, but he’s back for another year at UCLA. Most of the surrounding cast around Hundley returns to the field for the Bruins, and UCLA will have big games against Texas and Oregon where he’ll have a chance to make his mark on a national stage.
Ohio State faltered at the end of last season, and part of it was the ineffectiveness of Braxton Miller. He’s they catalyst of the Buckeyes team, and his senior season is his last chance to make a big mark. 2013 was Miller’s best season yet, and if the duel threat QB can finish off the season strong in 2014 expect to see him in NYC when the award is announced in December.
A huge loss to Stanford derailed Mariota’s hopes for Heisman and basically handed Winston the award, but the Ducks’ early game against Michigan State could make him the front runner by October. Mariota is a duel-threat and leads the most explosive offense in the country, and he’ll likely have every stat needed to win the award, but Oregon will have to make it through the year undefeated for him to lift the trophy.