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Spartan Nation Heisman Dark Horses for 2011


John Clay with an upset of OSU could move from a Dark Horse to a true contender.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

John Clay with an upset of OSU could move from a Dark Horse to a true contender. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

We took a look earlier in the week at the Spartan Nation projected front-runners for the Heisman trophy. The award is not a predictor of NFL success, but it is the most coveted individual award in sports. Today we look at the dark horses.


I was shocked by the amount of email I got telling me how wrong I was for my front-runners list. All of it almost entirely related to Mark Ingram of Alabama NOT being on the list. I explained that only once has a person won it twice (Archie Griffin, OSU) and that I expect Alabama to use more than just Mark this season.


I got several like this one, “Are you nuts? Has the fat cells clouded your brain? Tebow won it twice.” For the record he didn’t. He won it once and that was in 2007. So here are the dark horses.


Mark Ingram RB Alabama Odds are against him. Last season was lightning in a bottle and I don’t see Bama having as good of a year as last or him carrying as much of the load as last season. Less success and less carries and yards means no repeat.


Case Keenum QB Houston Considered by many a front-runner. His school is small and so is his conference. I am not saying it is right, but I am saying that is a reality. If Houston runs the table (like a TCU or a Boise) he moves to the front. Boise and TCU have a track record of doing that, Houston does not.

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Jacquizz Rodgers RB Oregon State This guy is amazing. No matter where the Beavers are on the field he is a threat to take it to the house. They have a schedule that could make this year special and if they do, he will get the love.


Jacory Harris QB Miami, FL He is a talented playmaker on a very good Hurricane team. If they can beat Ohio State on September 11, 2010 in Columbus, he would move to the top of the front-runners list. They won’t, or at least they have a very little chance so that is why he is a dark horse.


Dion Lewis RB PITT An amazing athlete. Pittsburgh could have an amazing season, but he has two things against him. #1 He is a sophomore and although they have won it, they have to really outshine the upper classmen to get the love from the Heisman voters. #2 He has Dave Wannstedt as a coach. He always seems to come up short with expectations. Wannstedt is a great guy so you root for him, but those are two big odds to overcome.


Joshua Nesbitt QB Georgia Tech Nesbitt is another amazing football player. He is a great QB, but could probably play with a high level of success at five or six places on both sides of the ball. One of the best athletes in college football he is fun to watch. He has to get a higher completion percentage or he is a non-factor in the race. The other concern is that his offense is not well liked among voters, which amazes me. I expect a good year for GT and if Nesbitt can improve his accuracy we know what he will do running.


John Brantley QB Florida The Gators are going to be a lot better than people think. Brantley has played a lot even though he was a backup because Florida has owned so many opponents under Tebow’s watch. He won’t have the running numbers of Tebow, but will have better passing numbers and you never count out an Urban Meyer team. If Florida wins big (and they have the talent to go undefeated in the SEC) he emerges as a top choice.


John Clay RB Wisconsin I predict the Badgers to go 10-2. Clay is a big reason. He has great balance and control of his body. He can move in any direction and when you see this 248# tank coming at you, defenders know a collision is coming. If the Badgers could upset Iowa at Iowa or pull out a shocking upset of #1 Ohio State in Madison this youngster could see his stock rise as fast as Enron’s fell.