2011 Preseason Heisman Watch: Returning Stars Highlight Trophy Chase
This Heisman Watch is from Aug. 19. To see the most recent edition of BCS Know How’s Heisman Watch, scroll down to the end of this post. Thanks!
Back-up to a Heisman winner. Replacement for an injured Heisman winner. At times, out-performing a Heisman winner.
This was Trent Richardson’s 2010. What can he do to make 2011 even more special? Well compete for a Heisman of his own, of course.
As backup to Mark Ingram, Richardson’s profile was somewhat diminished at the beginning of last season, but this year, Richardson comes into the season with the gig and the hype to match.
Richardson hit the ground running at Alabama with a key performance in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, one that keyed the Crimson Tide’s victory over Texas. Now in 2011, the junior has a chance to lead his team all season, and with the national media electing Alabama as the preseason favorite for a return bid to BCS glory, Richardson will be squarely in the viewfinder of the media, in prime position for a Heisman run of his own.
Sam Bradford’s shoulder and Landry Jones’s career will forever be linked. But with the right kind of 2011, Jones could see another link appear between the two Sooner legends — Heisman Trophy recipients.
Jones’s early days at Oklahoma were marked by his substitution for Bradford after rough hits against BYU and Texas in 2009. But ever since that Red River Rivalry game in ’09, the Sooners have been Jones’s team.
After an up-and-down 2011 for the senior that did result in a BCS bowl victory, Oklahoma’s first since 2002, but little Heisman consideration.
Expect that to change in 2011 as Jones and Oklahoma are favored to join Alabama in the national title game. If Jones is able to lead his Sooners to New Orleans in January, it would surprise no one to also see his face in New York in December.
Speed, speed and more speed. That was Oregon’s offensive attack in 2010. Expect more of the same in 2011.
At the heart of this Duck plan of attack is of course LaMichael James, the speedster who finished 2010 with a nation’s-best 1,682 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.
James will be the dangerous Pac-12 back everyone expects him to be, but will his national profile continue to be as large as it was while Oregon was on its way to a BCS National Championship Game berth? The answer to that question will be key to whether James can jump from a third-place finish in last year’s balloting for the Heisman to lifting the trophy come December.
Don’t be surprised to see James’s name atop many of those Heisman watch lists (this one included) if the Ducks can march back to the title game in 2011.
After Andrew Luck spent 2010 staking his claim as the nation’s best pro-style quarterback, the NFL called to Andrew Luck. With pro scouts drooling over Luck’s arm and intellect, he was projected as the year’s No. 1 overall pick.
But Luck wanted to stay in school. To many, it seemed foolish. But now, Luck returns to college football as the de facto favorite for the Heisman trophy in 2011 after finishing second to Cam Newton in 2010.
Luck will take on the new Pac-12 in 2011, but don’t expect different results. Luck is sure to once again pick apart the best the expanded conference can offer, and will be in the Heisman conversation for the long haul.
Did Luck make the right decision? Many might say no, unless Luck is to win the trophy. But don’t be surprised if he ends up doing just that.
Idaho is not exactly a bastion of quarterbacking legend. Rare is it that the nation’s premiere passer — and winner — resides in the state. But there Kellen Moore is, with just two losses to his name, a BCS bowl victory and all kinds of scintillating passing numbers.
Moore returns in 2011 as a household name of college football, ranked by the Sporting News as the very best college football player in the country. With that comes the expectation that on the iconic blue field he will once again make a run at the Heisman Trophy.
Moore spent much of last year near the top of Heisman watch lists, but never could quite push past the sheer domination of Cam Newton, the eventual trophy recipient. For his redshirt senior year, Moore will be at the top of the list again, but this time as the old guard — and to some the favorite.
His Boise State team is once again ranked in the top 10 in preseason balloting, and Moore will certainly look to break the Broncos into the national title discussion again. If he can finally break that barrier for the non-AQ schools, there will be no denying Moore’s place among the all-time great winners in college football history, and might just mean a Heisman is waiting in New York City for him.
Others to Watch
Now in his third year as the starter at USC, Barkley will look to lead the Trojans despite the postseason ban continuing as part of the NCAA sanctions against the school. A second year under the tutelage of Lane Kiffin might give the junior a better grasp on the offense, and a possible Heisman run may await.
Blackmon did quite a number on Big 12 defenses last season, and returns in 2011 looking to do more. A DUI charge likely halted his Heisman hopes in 2010, but with a new season comes possibility for this junior.
Injuries decimated Keenum’s run at a Heisman last season, but the gaudy passer in Houston’s air-attack offense is back for another year, and if he can withstand the injury bug, could put up numbers that will shock voters in considering the sixth-year senior.
A breakout freshman year in a Steve Spurrier offense did wonders for Lattimore’s national recognition, and helped South Carolina win the SEC East. Now in 2011, Lattimore, along with Richardson, is one of the premiere offensive players in the SEC. That’s been a good thing to say these past couple years — Cam Newton and Mark Ingram will tell you that — can Lattimore do more of the same?
Michigan’s dual-threat quarterback was all the rage in 2010 while his team was undefeated and Robinson looked like an early-season favorite for the award. The meat of the Big Ten schedule certainly returned Robinson to earth. Can 2011 be different for the dynamic athlete?
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