Marqise Lee, Junior WR, USC
A player from the West Coast hasn’t officially won the Heisman since 2004. (2005 Heisman winner Reggie Bush was stripped of the award). A lack of exposure being on the West Coast and of an experienced quarterback are working against Lee. But the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner will garner some Heisman attention. He just has to make sure it is enough attention to get him to New York.
Johnny Manziel, Sophomore QB, Texas A&M
The reigning Heisman winner has history working against him now. He may have been the first freshman to take the award home, but he will have to put together one heck of a season in order to take it home again. It has only had one two-time winner, and that was largely because there wasn’t anyone else to give it to. That shouldn’t be the case this season. He has already defied the odds and beaten history once. If there is a man to do it again, it is Manziel.
Jadeveon Clowney, Junior DE, South Carolina
Like Manziel, Clowney has history working against him. There is a reason that Charles Woodson is the only defensive player to win the Heisman and that is because he had a big role on Michigan’s special teams. Clowney will need unreal stats to win the Heisman. He will need the wins in order to take home the Heisman. Manti Te’o got close last season, but still came up short on his bid, despite leading his team to the national championship game. Clowney will need something special to take it home this season.
A.J. McCarron, Senior QB, Alabama
Quarterback? Check. Leading the top team in the country? Check. NFL potential? Check. By all accounts McCarron should be the unquestioned leader of the pack for the Heisman heading into this season. But he doesn’t get the credit for wins that a quarterback normally gets. He is not seen as the main man on his team but if he can overcome this stigma, he may have the easiest road to the award out of anyone.
The unquestioned leader for the Heisman this season should be someone that no one is talking about. Mark Ingram, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel all came from nowhere to win the award in their respective seasons for the past four years. The streak may very well continue this season. There is a lot standing in the way for leading candidates. Somewhere out there is a guy gearing up to have a breakout season. He may not be a household name yet, but he will be in a few months. Whoever he is, he is the frontrunner for the Heisman.