|08-15-2006, 08:43 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Shanghai, China
Top 20 2006 Heisman Candidates
May 26th, 2006
2006 Heisman 100
Heisman favorites 1-20
By Richard Cirminiello
Just a few weeks ago, Reggie Bush and Vince Young became multi-millionaires-to-be courtesy of getting selected at or near the top of the NFL Draft’s first round. Good for them. Good for their new employers. Good for this year’s Heisman race. Both Bush and Young left the amateur arena with a year of eligibility remaining, making the battle for the 2006 trophy a little more compelling and a lot more competitive than if last year’s winner or runner-up had stayed in school for his senior year. Anything might have happened, but the likelihood of a wire-to-wire victory for one of the two would have boxed out and sealed the fate of a slew of viable contenders, making for a ho-hum, matter-of-fact race. Instead, like the national title chase, we’ve got the makings of a deliciously wide-open situation, sans any runaway favorites.
Going 100 deep on a Heisman list may seem like a cop out to some, but you almost have to these days. Why? Jerome Harrison, Michael Robinson, Drew Olson, Elvis Dumervil. All four finished in the top 10 of last year’s voting, yet none got even a whisper of Heisman hype before the season began. This fall’s surprise could come from anywhere and might not even appear on a list that’s this fickle and all-encompassing.
20. LB Paul Posluszny, Penn State – Every season has at least one defensive player that generates a grassroots Heisman buzz. Posluszny will be that player in 2006. He’s arguably the best defender in college football, and those who doubt he steal some votes need only look at last year’s final tally, which included two defensive players in the Top 10.
19. QB Drew Tate, Iowa – Tate has been a very good quarterback the last two years for the Hawkeyes, but in order to be in the long haul hunt, he’ll need to be a little more prolific statistically while leading Iowa to a fifth straight January bowl game. He can also use a few reliable hands now that Clinton Solomon and Ed Hinkel have graduated.
18. RB Jamaal Charles, Texas – Vince Young has left Austin, but the ‘Horns are hardly void of flashy talent Heisman contenders. Charles is a burner, who led Texas backs in rushing as a freshman in 2005, despite suffering a nagging ankle injury in October. His biggest roadblocks will be durability and a backfield that’s as deep as any in America.
17. QB Chad Henne, Michigan – Henne’s got a chance to become the Wolverines’ all-time leading passer after just three seasons in Ann Arbor. And now as the undisputed leader of a Michigan team looking to rebound from its worst season since 1984, he’s going to get more media attention than ever before.
16. RB Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois – Get ready for a groundswell of support for Wolfe, particularly if he perforates a revamped Ohio State D in the opener. He’s a 300-yard game waiting to happen, and with an early schedule that includes Ohio, Buffalo, Indiana State and Ball State, he could be over 1,000 yards before the end of September.
15. RB Michael Hart, Michigan – Hart’s value to the Wolverines was never more evident than last year, when he missed substantial parts of the season and the offense sputtered in his absence. Chad Henne may have more pro potential, but Hart is the sparkplug, and with 12 games to prove it, he’s capable of becoming the first Michigan back in 66 years to win the award.
14. RB Marshawn Lynch, Cal – After Adrian Peterson, Lynch is squarely in the team photo for next best back in America. He can zoom past or through tacklers, and last December’s 194-yard, three-touchdown demolition of BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl was a prelude of things to come in his junior season.
13. RB Kenny Irons, Auburn – An expat, who began his college career at South Carolina, Irons was the SEC’s newcomer of the year in 2005, succeeding Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown better than anyone could have expected. In running for more than 100 yards in the Tigers’ final six league games, he allowed QB Brandon Cox to mature at a manageable pace.
12. QB Drew Stanton, Michigan State – Winning the Heisman is a two-part recipe that requires the right combination of big numbers and big wins. And therein lies the rub for Stanton. He’s got a proven, two-year track record of gaudy stats, but unless he can engineer a career-first upset Michigan or Ohio State and get the Spartans back to the post-season, the Top 10 is off limits.
11. QB John David Booty, USC – If Ashton Youboty was the Trojan quarterback, he might warrant an honorable mention somewhere on the list. Such is life these days at USC, where the supporting cast, media crush and league titles are practically built in to a quarterback’s candidacy. Booty’s a former prep All-American with four springs under his belt and a bulging disc that required surgery at the end of March.
10. QB Pat White, West Virginia – A year ago, Pat White was a non-entity to outside Morgantown. Today, he’s one of college football’s rising stars and a bona fide Heisman candidate in just his sophomore year. White didn’t even begin 2005 as the starter, but after winning the job in October, he performed like a Michael Vick knockoff, rushing for almost 1,000 yards and leading the ‘eers to a Sugar Bowl upset of Georgia.
9. QB Sam Keller, Arizona State – Or Rudy Carpenter, last year’s passing efficiency leader. The two are interchangeable, although Keller has the edge now that his injured hand has healed. Combined, the two threw for 37 touchdowns and 4,438 yards last fall. If either gets 80% of the snaps, those numbers plus an ASU run at the Pac-10 title equals Jake Plummer: The Sequel.
8. RB Steve Slaton, West Virginia – West Virginia football is hot these days, and kids like Slaton and QB Pat White will be the beneficiaries of the unprecedented national exposure. Slaton was magnificent in his 2005 debut, shaking off early-season anonymity to finish with 1,128 yards on the ground and 19 touchdowns in just over half a season.
7. RB Michael Bush, Louisville – Bush entered Louisville as a blue-chip quarterback. He’ll leave with just about every school rushing and scoring mark. He was a scoring machine last year, reaching the end zone 24 times in just 10 games, something he’s capable of duplicating in this year’s combustible Cardinal offense.
6. WR Ted Ginn, Jr., Ohio State – Forecasters predicting a Heisman in Ginn’s future may have been a year off. He never mounted a challenge in a disappointing sophomore season, but 2006 figures to be more promising. Ginn, coaches say, has really stepped up his game in the off-season and on speed alone, he’s a candidate for six every time the ball is in his hands.