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SPRING FOOTBALL REPORT: EARLY HEISMAN FAVORITES
May 13, 2008

SCS.comOnly one player has managed to win the Heisman twice. Ohio State great Archie Griffin, who won the award in 1974 and 1975, could possibly have company by the end of this college football season. Tim Tebow won the award last year as a sophomore, a first in Heisman history. He threw 32 touchdowns and ran for 23. No player, before Tebow, has ever thrown 20 touchdowns and ran for 20 touchdowns. He seems like the logical choice for the top candidate. However, he is listed as number three on my early spring report list. Tebow cannot handle a workload like he was given last year. At the end of the season, he was more tired than 3-year old after a day at the zoo. Plus, the general population of voters will be reluctant to elect the same player again. He would have to produce bigger numbers than he did in 2007, and that is nearly impossible.

1. Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

Who better to stop Tebow’s attempt at two Heisman trophies than an Ohio State running back. Wells was the only Buckeye to show up against LSU in the national championship game, rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown. The Buckeyes return 9 starters on offense. If the Buckeyes beat Southern California in week 3, they will have a fairly easy path to the national title game. I apologize to the fans of Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and the rest of the Big 10, but you cannot stop “Beanie” Wells. Only two Big 10 teams held him under 100 yards. Against Purdue, he still averaged over 4 yards a carry. Against Illinois, he found the end zone twice. Only two things can stop Wells from hoisting the stiff-arm statue in December: His wrist and his coach.

2. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

Not only does Knowshon Moreno have the coolest name in college football, he is also the most explosive running back in college football. Moreno rushed for over 100 yards in several crucial SEC games against Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Switch Moreno with Wells (from Georgia to Ohio State), and Moreno would top this list. Moreno will have to share carries with freshman sensation Caleb King. Also, QB Matthew Stafford could replace Moreno on this list if he can find the end zone a little bit more.

3. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida

Tebow is the best player in college football. He has a much better arm than anyone gives him credit for. He is a powerful runner that has a knack for finding pay dirt. Tebow’s numbers were outstanding last year, but the team struggled at times (like their loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl). However, Florida has a new kink in their offense that might make the team better prepared for a title run. A running game. Chris Rainey has been attracting attention all Spring long for his superb speed. What does this mean for Tebow? The team will get better, but he might score less rushing touchdowns. Florida fans will gladly trade another Heisman for a healthy Tebow and a shot at the title.

4. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

I think Texas Tech should change their nicknames from the Red Raiders to the Statistical Stallions. Yes, I know, very catchy. I do not know which statistical stallion to pick. Quarterback Graham Harrell will be throwing the TD passes to Crabtree. He could steal the sophomore receiver’s thunder. If Colt Brennan can be a Heisman finalist, why not Harrell? There are a few reasons. First, he is a Texas Tech quarterback. Voters are not likely to give their votes to a quarterback that throws 60 times a game. Also, Texas Tech quarterbacks usually rack up the interceptions when they reach the meat of the Big 12 schedule. Crabtree could break 2000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2008. He may not win, but he will put up big numbers and warrant an invite to New York City.

5. Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri

Missouri has never won 10-plus games two years in a row. However, there is a first time for everything. Last year, Missouri went 12-2. Chase Daniel was the main reason why. Daniel had a 3 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio and led Missouri to a 38-7 Cotton Bowl win. This year, Daniel will be called upon to do even more now that Tony Temple has graduated and two of their top three receiver (TE Martin Rucker and WR William Franklin). However, he will have some solid targets. Sophomore Jeremy Maclin, a dynamic kick returner, caught 80 balls last year. Chase Coffman might be the best tight end in the country and will be a first day draft pick in 2009. Daniel will lead Tigers through uncharted territory, as favorites to win the Big 12. His quick feet and accurate arm will have him on everybody’s Heisman list.

Darkhorses:

Cullen Harper, QB, Clemson - Starting full time for the first time in his career, Harper threw 27 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions in 2007. Look for the senior to have a year and surprise everybody by putting up even bigger numbers.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh – You probably do not know who LeSean McCoy is, but you will after his sophomore season. As a freshman, he ran for over 1300 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. McCoy had 38 carries and 148 yards rushing in Pitt’s season finale win over West Virginia.

George Selvie, DE, USF – If I had to pick a defensive player to win the award, George Selvie is my choice, just barely over LB James Laurinaitis. Selvie had more sacks than Vernon Gholston and Chris Long last year as a sophomore (14.5). He also lead the country in tackles for loss.

Any Big 12 QB – Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Kansas’s Todd Ressing, Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, or Texas’s Colt McCoy all have legitimate shots to put up huge numbers. If I had to choose one, it would be McCoy. My gut tells me his growing pains are done with in Texas.

P.J. Hill, RB, Wisconsin – When healthy, he is nearly unstoppable. Keep him on the field and he will put up big numbers.

Stay Away:

Pat White, QB, West Virginia – New coach, new scheme, and chance of injury. I just do not see White having a Dennis Dixon type of season. Noel Devine is a more sensible choice.

Hawaii’s starting quarterback – June Jones is gone and Hawaii has an early season game at Florida. Confidence will be shaken before it is instilled.

A Southern California running back – The Trojans might have the best stable of running backs in the country, but I do not think that anyone will get enough to carries to put up Heisman like numbers.

Jake Locker, QB, Washington – I still think Locker and Washington are a year away.

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