Way Too Early 2014 Heisman Trophy Predictions
With four weeks of major college football in the books and most conference seasons set to begin in earnest this week — or in the very near future — it’s a great time to take stock of the players that have had the biggest impact so far this season.
My ever-so-talented colleague Brian Redd Reddoch recently released his predictions for the teams that will comprise the College Football Playoff field in January. Along those same lines, these are my predictions for the players who will be present on December 15 when the 80th Heisman Memorial Trophy is awarded.
For better or worse, these are the players likely to hold the national spotlight for the rest of the year.
Marcus Mariota QB – Oregon
Mariota was one of the favorites in the preseason and, unlike fellow A-listers Jameis Winston (suspension) and Brett Hundley (injury and somewhat lackluster play), he has given no reason to warrant removal from the short list of candidates. The junior signal-caller has already led the Ducks to a marquee win (over Michigan State) and this past week he pulled them out of the fire with a five touchdown, no interception performance in a 38-31 gut-check win over Washington State. The road to the CFP and the Heisman goes through Eugene until further notice.
Up Next: October 2 vs. Arizona
Ameer Abdullah RB – Nebraska
The Big Ten has been a mess so far in 2014, with only Nebraska and Penn State making it to conference play with unblemished records. The Cornhuskers can largely thank Abdullah for that, as he has conjured up images of Mike Rozier in Lincoln. In the ‘Huskers’ most recent game, against Miami (FL), the senior tailback did everything except literally put the team on his back, averaging 6.5 yards per carry despite toting the rock a superhuman 35 times. Nebraska won 41-31 and the Abdullah Heisman campaign officially got underway.
Up Next: Saturday vs. Illinois
Amari Cooper WR – Alabama
It’s been 23 years since the last time a wide receiver took home the trophy (Desmond Howard won in 1991). If Cooper keeps putting up the eye-popping numbers he has and Alabama keeps winning, the jet-quick wideout could end that drought. The Miami native has nearly singlehandedly made relatively unheralded quarterback Blake Sims looking Manning-esque, hauling in 43 passes in just four games, including five for scores. He’s been a tremendous deep threat, averaging over 15 yards per reception, including a 79-yard catch-and-run in Week 4 that made a seemingly stout Florida defense look like they were in quicksand. If Alabama wins the SEC, Cooper will probably be in New York for the trophy presentation. Whether he hoists the award himself might depend largely on the right arm of Sims.
Up Next: October 4 at Ole Miss
In the Hunt
Todd Gurley RB – Georgia
Gurley has put up huge numbers, but couldn’t lead the Bulldogs past South Carolina in Week 3. UGA will likely have to run the table for the über-talented tailback to be considered for the honor.
Kenny Hill QB – Texas A&M
Hill’s candidacy thus far is based mostly on his Week 1 evisceration of South Carolina. Since then, he’s simply put up big numbers against weak competition. We’ll know more after an upcoming three-game stretch against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama.
Bryce Petty QB – Baylor
Petty’s flown slightly under the radar after missing a game due to a back injury, but he’s thrown six touchdowns without an interception in two games and Baylor looks as strong as ever. All signs point to a November 8 clash against Oklahoma deciding whether the Bears and Petty will be nationally relevant this year.
Taysom Hill QB – BYU
Hill might have had a Heisman moment already when he leapfrogged through the Texas defense and put BYU on the national map. If the Cougars go undefeated and claim a spot in the CFP, Hill will be in New York on presentation night. His margin for error as a player outside the Power Five conferences, though, is razor thin.
Welcome to the Race
Anu Solomon QB – Arizona
If you don’t know Solomon, now would be a good time to learn his name. There’s plenty of room on the Arizona bandwagon, so reserve your seats now. The redshirt freshman has thrown 13 TDs in just four games so far, none bigger than a last second Hail Mary from 47 yards out Saturday that beat Cal. If the Wildcats can hang with Oregon in their next game, Solomon could win it for them at the end.
Dak Prescott QB – Mississippi State
Prescott loudly announced his presence on the national scene with an undressing of LSU in Death Valley, the first time the Bulldogs have beaten the Tigers in Baton Rouge since 1991. The dual-threat QB has tossed 11 touchdowns through the air and run for three more, and has three 100-yard efforts on the ground in four games. The schedule is brutal for the No. 14 Bulldogs, with both No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 5 Auburn coming to town in the next three weeks.