Welcome to a new era of the Heisman Watch.
I'm taking the reins from the venerable
Think of me as your pilot on this four-month flight to New York, crisscrossing the nation in a 747 as we look for the next name to enshrine alongside the game's immortals. Don't worry: I've logged plenty of practice miles, voting in the last three races. (For the record,
To kick things off, we'll be departing from the typical top 10 list. Instead, we'll begin with a tiered look at my leading candidates heading into the season, starting with the best bets to make it to New York City.
There may not be a better quarterback in the country than the Michigan transfer. He made a splash in his first year in
The junior is the poster boy for the lovable little team that could make a run at the national title. Moore is coming off a sophomore season in which he threw 39 touchdown passes and just three interceptions while ranking second nationally in passing efficiency. Whether or not the Broncos can break into the BCS title game has been a major preseason debate, but an even bigger question is whether a player from a non-AQ school can win over voters. No player from outside the current BCS conferences has won the Heisman since
Was Pryor's Rose Bowl performance a preview of what's to come?
He'll certainly post mind-boggling numbers. After throwing for a nation's-best 5,671 yards and 44 scores last season, 6,000 yards isn't entirely preposterous. Houston returns three 1,000-yard receivers and the schedule includes six teams that ranked 98th or worse in pass defense last year. But Keenum has two things going against him: 1) There's not a marquee game on the schedule with a nonconference slate of UCLA, Mississippi State and Texas Tech and 2) Voters have been desensitized to mammoth passing numbers since the days of
The nation's returning leading rusher burst onto the scene as a freshman, racking up more yards (1,799 yards) and more 100-yard games (10) than Ingram, and doing so while playing one fewer game. He also proved he can shoulder a load with 325 carries, second-most in the nation. Lewis could become the fourth straight sophomore to win the award, but he needs a Pitt program that has a history of underachieving to remain in the Big East hunt despite starting a new quarterback and three new offensive linemen.
After amassing 2,693 yards and 32 touchdowns in his first two seasons, Quizz has become one of the nation's most exciting players. He could be in for a huge year statistically, with the Beavers likely leaning on him as they break in a first-year starting quarterback. But no one on this list will be tested as much, as early: Quizz faces No. 6 TCU and No. 3 Boise State in the first three weeks of the season. If he gets off to a slow start, his candidacy could end before it really begins, no matter how many yards he ends up recording.
The secret is clearly out on the Midshipmen quarterback. There's an unofficial twitter feed (
Locker's getting plenty of love after a summer media tour that included
He's arguably the best running back in the country and last year became the first freshman in ACC history to lead the conference in rushing (1,655 yards) and scoring (21 TDs). In any other year he'd be one of the favorites, but with the return of 1,000-yard rusher