2013 Heisman Trophy Race Preview

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The Heisman Trophy is one of the most legendary trophies in football as it has been given out since 1935. The trophy has evolved over time as it has always been handed out to the best player in the NCAA. What that means is what has evolved over time as the best player in the NCAA has become a much larger debate. The best player in the NCAA has always been considered the best offensive player in the league. Even then the award was only really limited to running backs and quarterbacks with a few tight ends winning in the old style of offence that limited passing. Through the evolution of offence the running backs would take over the award in the 1970s and early 1980s when a running back would win 11 straight years. Again as offences evolved the quarterbacks would begin to even out in the award. For the last three years a Quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy as they have quickly taken over the league. As QBs and RBs rule the trophy, with a few receivers thrown in, there is on area that has only ever seen one award handed out. The defensive side of the ball has only seen one Heisman Trophy as Charles Woodson would win the award as a Cornerback and Kick Returner. Since then a few defensive players have come close but no defensive player has won the award. The time is coming though as every year there seems to be a defensive player getting closer and closer to the award. Last year that man was Manti Te’o who finished 2nd in voting to Freshman winner Johnny Manziel. This year there will be another defensive favorite as Jadeveon Clowney tries to make his mark and become the first pure defensive player to win the Heisman. He will have a lot to go through though as there are a lot of QBs in his path to getting that award. There is the incumbent in Johnny Manziel who will try to repeat a surprising season while everyone watches him. Then there is the man from the program that is coming back from suspension and will definitely make some noise. The Crimson Tide QB will also get his day in the sun as he will be near the top for most of the season if they continue to dominate. Finally there is the QB who has made an impression but never seems to hold it throughout the season. It may be one of these five but then again it could be someone who comes out of nowhere like Johnny Manziel did last year. The race will be a good one and us yet another level to what could be a great 2013 NCAA season.

1. Braxton Miller, QB (Ohio State)

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The Ohio State Buckeyes are coming out of exile as they will be back from a suspension that has kept them on the fringes for two years. This year the Buckeyes are on the main stage as they are an early favorite to make it to the National Championship and challenge the Crimson Tide. The leader of this group that went undefeated last year will be Braxton Miller who has that mix of athleticism and QB instincts to lead this team to the National Championships. Last year Miller would throw for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards showing he has the ability to take over games along the way. The biggest thing that Braxton will have going for him this year is the simple fact that he is in one of the biggest programs in the nation. With the Buckeyes allowed to return to a bowl game this year everyone will be taking notice and that means a lot of exposure for the QB. Along with this Miller will have a great coach in Urban Meyer who has already produced a Heisman Trophy winner in Tim Tebow, who may not be a great NFL QB but was a great NCAA QB. With Urban Meyer leading them once again Miller will likely get the chance to win this award but he does need to pick up his numbers this year if he hopes to out-due the QBs below him or any surprises that rise up.

2012 Stats:
58.3%
2,039 yds
15 TD
6 INT
227 rsh
1,271 rsh yds
13 rsh TD

 

2. AJ McCarron, QB (Alabama)

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The Alabama offence does not get a lot of play on the national stage as they have been looked at as a defence first team. That is true as the defence has led the Tide to the National Championship three of the past four years. The offence is nothing to laugh at though as they steadily become a power in the NCAA. They are not the run and gun offence that has become dominant in the league but they are very effective. They are a pro style offence that likes to run out the clock and throw when they need to. That is beginning to change though as AJ McCarron has taken this offence to a different level. Now he is beginning to get the recognition he deserves and will be a seen as a strong Heisman candidate. McCarron has the ability to win the Heisman especially with Alabama seemingly on their way to another National Championship. He will get the exposure he needs to win the Heisman but as usual the offence he runs might hold him back. Nick Sabban is not known for his adjustments to a winning formula and that winning formula is running the ball with a running back. McCarron fits this offence well but if he cannot throw the ball for over 3,000 yards he will fall quickly. Without the athleticism to dominate both on the ground and through the air McCarron needs to earn some great stats to earn this award.

2012 Stats:
67.2%
2,933 yds
30 TD
2 INT

 

3. Johnny Manziel, QB (Texas A&M)

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Last year the QB known as Johnny Football would sweep the nation and become the first Freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Nobody was taking about the Texas A&M Aggies or Johnn Manziel before the season as the concentration was on Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans trying to challenge the Tide. Manziel would be the person to lead the charge against the Crimson Tide handing them their only lose on the season and launching Manziel on to the national stage. He would continue to put on great performances for the rest of the season and capture the hearts and minds of the nation. Winning the Heisman Trophy would be a great achievement for the redshirt freshman who continued the trend of giving the Heisman to younger and younger players. Manziel would have entered the season as the favorite to repeat as the Heisman winner but this offseason would put a lot in doubt. Reports of Manziel partying and getting into to trouble would lead a lot to believe that he was not ready for this big of a spotlight. Then came the scandal where Manziel reportedly signed memorabilia in exchange for cash, a clear violation of NCAA rules. Now Manziel is at risk of being suspended for the season and may not step on the field for a play ending any hopes of a repeat this year. Johnny Football will be a top pick for the Heisman if he plays this year but it all hangs in the balance with his terrible offseason.

2012 Stats:
68.0%
3,706 yds
26 TD
9 INT
201 rsh
1,420 rsh yds
21 rsh TD

 

4. Tajh Boyd, QB (Clemson)

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The Clemson Tigers have had their share of success but they always seem to fall just short of making a huge impact on the national stage. This is the biggest reason why Tajh Boyd is a bit of a darkhorse selection for the Heisman this year. Boyd has made an appearance in the top five for the Heisman over the last few years but has never been able to hold the spot. Boyd has that ability to completely break open a game and takeover to help the Tigers win. He has the athletic ability to make something happen if a play breaks down but the ability to sit in the pocket and make it happen as well. With almost 4,000 passing yards and over 500 rushing yards Boyd is the pro-style QB with athleticism. He prefers to throw but can run if he needs to and this makes him and intriguing pick. Still he is a part of a program that does not get a lot of play on the national stage. It is hard to win the Heisman Trophy when not many people see what you can do on the field. This is the challenge that Boyd will have to overcome and to do so he will need to have a lights out season under centre. He has to make people notice him which will be a challenge as he cannot have an off game this year if he hopes that the committee will elect him as the 2013 winner.

2012 Stats:
67.2%
3,896 yds
36 TD
13 INT
186 rsh
514 rsh yds
10 rsh TD

 

5. Jadeveon Clowney, DE (South Carolina)

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There always seems to be one defensive player that cracks the top five of the Heisman Trophy race but this year might be different from the last. Clowney could be the best bet for a defensive player to win the Heisman in the last few years. He is the most disruptive force in the NCAA right now and that is why he is in the top five. He is a part of a big program in South Carolina as well that will give him the exposure he needs while he goes through the SEC. Clowney is a defensive lineman that can change games and he showed this against Michigan in the Outback Bowl last year. The Wolverines would decide to run the ball and they gave the ball to Vincent Smith. Before Smtih could even look up to see were a hole was Clowney was through the line and in the backfield laying on a hit that would pop off Smith’s helmet and dislodge the ball essentially ending the game. Clowney was the difference in that game and will have to continue to be the difference in games as he looks to become the first pure defender to win the Heisman. The same label was put on Manti Te’o last year and before his scandal he was a difference maker that ended in second place. If Clowney can be what he needs to be this year he may just achieve what nobody else has in the NCAA.

2012 Stats:
54 tkl
23.5 tfl
13.0 sck
3 FF
1 Frec

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