Heisman Candidates: Part II

June 23, 2009

TheDailySportsHerald.com Heisman contender list continues with the top 5.

#5 Dez Bryant, Jr. (WR), Oklahoma State

Positives: Bryant (1480 yds, 87 receptions) was a 1st team All-American last year in an explosive Cowboys offense that averaged over 40 points per game and figures to be just as good this year. He has big play ability (17.0 yds/catch) and regularly finds the end zone (19 TDs). As a wide receiver, Bryant provides an alternative choice for voters to the running backs and Big 3 quarterbacks who will also be considered. In a sense, he can avoid being compared to Tebow, Bradford, or McCoy.

Bryant is also the best punt returner in college football (17.9 yds/punt return, 2 TDs) and will produce numerous highlights for SportsCenter. If he shines in big games versus Texas and Oklahoma, he will be a very serious candidate indeed.

Negatives: The Cowboy offense also has stars in QB Zac Robinson (3064 yds, 25 TDs) and RB Kendall Hunter (1555 yds, 6.5 yds/carry, 1st team AA) who will garner significant attention as well. Many view all 3 stars as a package, making it difficult for any one to separate himself.

For all of Oklahoma State's offensive talent, it is still likely they will lose to Oklahoma and Texas, reducing Bryant's chances in the process. It doesn't help that Bradford and McCoy are in the same conference and get most of the attention.

It is always tough for a wide receiver to win the Heisman, unless it is a relatively weak year which it definitely isn't.

#4 Sam Bradford, Jr. (QB), Oklahoma

Positives: Last year's Heisman Trophy winner came off a statistically ridiculous year (4720 yds, 50 TDs, 8 INTs, 67.9% completions, NCAA record 180.8 efficiency rating) for an offense that averaged over 50 points per game. The Sooners are a top 5 team again and the showdown with Texas will likely determine whether they will play for the BCS Championship.

Running backs Chris Brown (1239 yds) and DeMarco Murray (1038 yds) assure a balanced attack to help open up the pass while TE Jermanine Gresham is a future 1st round pick. Bradford will very likely be the #1 pick in next year's NFL Draft which is something voters do seem to consider.

Negatives: Bradford's relatively poor performance in the BCS Championship Game last year is likely to hurt his chances for a second Heisman as voters might be skeptical of his regular season success. Big 12 defenses correctly do not garner much respect after last year. There is also the sense that voters would pick McCoy over Bradford if it is close between them this year.

Further, the Sooners lost 4 starting offensive lineman and Bradford's protection will suffer. Also, Bradford lost 2 of his top 3 wide receivers (Jauquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson). These facts plus a more difficult schedule suggest it will be very unlikely Bradford will be able to duplicate his 2008 numbers.

#3 Colt McCoy, Sr. (QB), Texas

Positives: McCoy came off a spectacular season in which he was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy (3859 yds, 34 TDs, 8 INTs). McCoy's accuracy was incredible (76.7% completions) and he led his team with virtually no help from a rushing attack, other than his own (team leading 561 yds rushing).

He helped guide his team to victory in the previously all-important Red River Shootout with Oklahoma, but the Longhorns were ultimately snubbed by the voters at the end. The unfairness associated with that decision along with his 2nd place Heisman finish should help create a certain groundswell of sentimental support for McCoy. The fact that Texas is probably a better team than they were last year bodes well also.

Negatives: Many have come to understand that Big 12 defenses are quite overrated and will not be impressed by astronomical statistics alone. Previous comparisons to the SEC appear as inappropriate this year as last. The running game is still weak and the Longhorns lost their top receiver Quan Crosby to graduation.

Few believe McCoy is as good a prospect as his Big 12 colleague Bradford. He is mobile but he doesn't run as well as Tebow.

#2 Jahvid Best, Jr. (RB), California

Positives: Best is the fastest, most explosive player in college football. He is college football's leading returning rusher (1580 yds, 15 TDs, led nation with 8.1 yds/carry) and his ability to make big plays will fit nicely into any highlight package (19 runs of 20+ yards, 7 runs of 60+ yards). His 2008 accomplishments were achieved despite leg and elbow injuries and a poor passing game. If he stays healthy and the passing game improves as expected, a 2000 yard season is very possible.

Best is also the only preseason candidate on the west coast, and this could help him if there was a close vote. If Best leads Cal to its first Rose Bowl since 1959, he will garner significant attention nationwide. Playing a young USC team at Cal early in the Pac-10 season (as opposed to November when USC is virtually invincible), gives Cal its best opportunity in many years to win the Pac-10.

In limited attempts, he was 2nd in the Pac-10 in kickoff returns (26.3 yds/return) and this number should go up significantly as it is only a matter of time before he takes one or several to the house. It also helps not being a QB and having to get compared to Tebow.

Negatives: Best is coming off two seasons where injuries have been a factor. He has yet to show he can stay healthy for an entire season. The Bears' passing game is still unproven and if it does not improve then teams will stack the box and limit him. The loss of All-American center Alex Mack will hurt the offensive line play.

The Bears do not have the media muscle to sell him as other schools do. Further, to really have a chance at the Rose Bowl, the Bears must beat USC, something that they have been unable to do in recent years.

#1 Tim Tebow, Sr. (QB), Florida

Positives: The 2007 Heisman winner (2007 numbers: 3286 yds passing, 32 TDs, 6 INTs, 895 yds rushing, 23 TDs) is already being hailed as perhaps the greatest college football player ever. Hyperbole? Sure, but just the suggestion shows you what people think of this guy.

Tebow (2008 numbers: 2747 yds passing, 30 TDs, 4 INTs, 673 yds rushing, 12 TDs) was the best player on the best team in the country last year, giving Tebow and Florida 2 of the last 3 BCS Championships. Although he finished 3rd in the Heisman voting, he had the most 1st place votes. Both he and the Gators should be even better than last year's team.

Most also recognize that his statistical accomplishments mean much more than Bradford's or McCoy's because of the quality of the SEC opposition. Put simply, if Florida wins the SEC and is headed to the BCS Championship game by the time of the Heisman vote, Tebow wins the Heisman Trophy.

Negatives: There exists some anti-Tebow sentiment which resents his "choir boy" image and all the accolades he receives. Other critics choose to emphasize his limitations as an NFL prospect. With Bradford and McCoy in the mix, some debate will exist as to who is really the best quarterback and that might split the vote somewhat.

Despite his remarkable toughness for a quarterback, Tebow's willingness to run inside always exposes him to potential injury. On the flip side, either to avoid injury or improve his NFL stock, Tebow may become more of a pure pocket passer, which is not his strength.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

1 comment:

  1. Colt McCoy of the Texas Longhorns made a smart decision not to enter the NFL draft this year. He already has the starting job on a great team that should be a top 5 contender. If he has another fantastic year and the longhorns pick up a couple more key players to take the load off his back, we are looking at the next Heisman.


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