De Jesus: It’s never too early for Heisman talk
Manuel De Jesus | Sunday, September 7, 2014
After just two weeks of college football, we’ve experienced countless jaw-dropping plays, a couple of critical upsets and a few players that have left the rest of the college football world wondering whether or not they’re even human. It is really early in the season, but it’s never too early to start looking at who has the most realistic chance at taking home college football’s most prized trophy: the Heisman.
After watching more hours of film than Ron Jaworski, I’ve come up with a list of players, from most qualified to least, that best fit the Heisman’s description of the most outstanding player in the country, excluding our own athletes here at South Bend.
Todd Gurley, Running back, Georgia
Todd Gurley has been looking for the Heisman since he stepped on the field as a freshman, but this year will be his first real chance to take home the award. As of late, the running back position hasn’t received much love from Heisman voters. The last four winners were all quarterbacks, with the last running back to win it being former Alabama running back Mark Ingram.
Gurley has a shot at being the second to win it in the last six years. He’s the most explosive back that I’ve seen since Reggie Bush. In just one game this year against Clemson, Gurley carried the ball a mere 15 times and ran for 198 yards to go along with three touchdowns and a 100-yard kick return that also went for a touchdown. Gurley can really do it all. He’s a 6-foot-1, 226 pound bruising back that has the speed and elusiveness to make almost anyone miss at any given moment. Georgia is going spend all season competing for the SEC title and that’s going to be credited to Gurley’s play throughout the season.
Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon
Another player who’s usually on the Heisman preseason watch list is junior quarterback Marcus Mariota. This Duck has been lights out statistically since his first year as a starter in 2012. He’s one of my favorite players to watch because of his elite dual-threat ability. Some guys are able to throw and run the ball well, but Mariota does both with excellence week in and week out. After beating both dinky South Dakota and last year’s Rose Bowl champions in Michigan State, Mariota has thrown for 585 yards and six scores through the air along with 85 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Chip Kelly had a lot to do with Oregon’s success in recent history but without Mariota, Oregon just isn’t the same team.
Kenny Hill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
Kenny Football, or as he said he wants to be called, Kenny Trill, has been able to fill into the shoes of Johnny Cleveland with ease. In his debut as an Aggie, Hill threw for a school-record 511 yards against preseason No. 9 South Carolina, showing the rest of America that Texas A&M is still a powerhouse team even without Johnny Manziel. After his second game, when Hill completely decimated Lamar, 73-0, the Aggies rocketed up the AP poll from no. 21 to no. 7. Hill has become a force to be reckoned with and he’s surely caught the attention of Heisman voters. As of right now, Hill is a potential Heisman candidate, but until he helps the Aggies beat Alabama, he won’t be considered a finalist for the award at season’s end.
I wanted to come up with a fourth player to put on the list, but there really isn’t anyone else who comes from a relevant conference that stands out. Instead I came up with a list of guys that could become potential candidates as the season progresses.
Eric Kendricks, linebacker, UCLA; Ameer Abdullah, running back, Nebraska; Bryce Petty, quarterback, Baylor; Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State; Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Alabama.
Like every season, there will probably be a couple of guys that come out of nowhere to make their way into the Heisman watch, but these are the guys I think have the best chance of making it to New York as a finalist in December.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.