On the Ball: 2014 Heisman Contenders Update
We’re three weeks into the college football season and though nothing’s been decided yet on who’ll win the Heisman, here’s an early look at the leaders heading into Week 4.
5. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia (329 rushing yards, 9.4 yards/carry, 4 TDs)
Gurley is only 21st in rushing yards this season, but the Bulldogs have only played two games through the first three weeks and they were both against quality opponents—versus Clemson and at South Carolina. Although Gurley only has -1 receiving yards so far, he had 441 in 2013, so if that picks up (it should) he could move up the list. As it is now the voters generally favor quarterbacks, but if a running back can hit the magical 2,000-yard mark he has a legitimate chance.
4. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State (626 passing yards, 70.1 percent completions, 3 TDs/2 Ints)
We’re putting the reigning Heisman winner Winston here out of respect for his ability because his current numbers aren’t quite on par with where he was at this point last season. In 2013 then-freshman Winston carved up Pittsburgh and Nevada to the combined tune of an 88.9 percent completion rate with 6 TDs and 1 pick. The talented Winston still has time to pick up the pace, but after Florida State announced he’ll be suspended for the first half of this week’s game against Clemson, he’ll need to make every snap count.
3. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor (577 yards, 63.2 percent completions, 6 TDs/0 Ints)
Petty played with a hurt back in the opener (a 70–6 laugher over SMU) and then missed the team’s 45–0 destruction of Northwestern State two weeks ago. But last week the senior signal-caller, who threw for 4,200 yards and 32 TDs last year, put on a nice display (416 yards passing, 4 TDs) in only three quarters of play in the 42-point dismantling of Buffalo. The Bears begin conference play next week though, so we’ll see if he can keep it up against better-quality opponents.
2. QB Kenny Hill, Texas A&M (1,094 yards, 69.2 percent completions, 11 TDs/0 Ints)
Hill is the first surprise entry on this list and there’s no escaping his incredible numbers. The sophomore made everyone forget about that Johnny Manziel guy with his opening week performance—511 yards passing and 3 TDs in a blowout win at South Carolina. He’s thrown eight more TDs in the two games since and shows no signs of slowing down. His biggest obstacle to the Heisman is the perception that Kevin Sumlin’s pass-happy offense down at Texas A&M is more to blame than the prowess of Hill’s arm.
1. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon (806 yards, 70.4 percent completions, 8 TDs/0 Ints, 156 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs)
Right now Mariota would seem to have a lock on the Heisman. Not only did the dual-threat QB enter the season with plenty of Heisman-hype after a standout 2013 campaign, he’s followed it up with a strong showing through the first three games this year, including a stellar performance against highly regarded Michigan State. Not to mention, his undefeated Ducks are ranked second in the country. It’s his to lose.