Five Heisman Candidates
This time last year, nobody was talking about Johnny Manziel, Collin Klein or Mantei Te’o as Heisman candidates. That’s basically three years in a row (RGIII and Cam Newton) where the winner basically came from nowhere. So here are five guys not many people will be talking about between now and September.
RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
The next great Alabama running back had an impressive freshman season. He finished second on the team in yards to Eddie Lacy, who will almost certainly be back for his senior season. If Lacy goes pro unexpectedly, Yeldon could be poised for a huge season. Either way, he should only get better.
RB Duke Johnson, Miami (Fla.)
Johnson just finished a strong freshman season after being a heralded five-star recruit. He averaged an impressive 6.8 yards per carry. He also returned two kickoffs for TDs, caught a TD and threw a TD. Like Yeldon, he should only get better as he fills out and adds some bulk. Johnson split carries with senior Mike James, but should get a lot more for himself next season.
RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
Continuing a trend, here is another freshman running back who shared carries this season. The difference here is that Gurley shared carries with another freshman (Keith Marshall). Marshall had a better average but Gurley had more carries. Gurley is a little bigger and is the guy I remember more from my time watching Georgia. He will have to beat out Marshall for the starting job first and foremost. Aaron Murray returning would be helpful for him as well.
QB Everett Golson, Notre Dame
It’s risky putting Golson on this list because if he has a big game against Alabama he could get elevated onto more mainstream preseason lists. Notre Dame should enter the preseason in the top 10 at worst. Golson will be a junior, and with a full season of starting under his belt he should have the reins taken off a bit next year. He is fast, and could be Braxton Miller Light if he has a good season next year.
QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
Brett Hundley put together a solid season as a true freshman under first year coach Jim L. Mora. He has a long way to go as a passer, but he did complete 66% of his passes (21st in NCAA). He was sacked a ridiculous 52 times, which greatly hurt his rushing stats. Theorectically his interception rate will go down, which should improve his already solid QB rating (26th in NCAA). UCLA should be better in year two of the Mora era, and Hundley should be better too. This might be one year early for him, but at some point in his career I expect him to be a big time college QB.