Matt Barkley

At the beginning of the summer, freshman Brandon Stone announced his intention to forgo his three remaining years of eligibility for a professional golfing career. Stone is the second golfer in many years to leave Texas as an underclassman, following in the footsteps of former Longhorn Jordan Spieth who turned pro in 2012 after only one season.


For the Men’s Golf Freshman of the Year, the allure of a professional contract was likely too much to pass up. In addition, Spieth hinted that winning a national championship as a freshman left him with no more challenges. Though this has become a recent trend for men’s golf, the Texas men’s basketball program is all too familiar with the one-and-done phenomenon. For example, Kevin Durant only spent one season at Texas before seeking “greener” pastures in the NBA.

 

With Stone’s early departure from Texas, it is becoming clear that the typically one-and-done athletes aren’t exclusively basketball players anymore.
 

Before Durant, superstars often went directly to the NBA before a rule change prevented 18-year-olds from signing professional contracts, effectively changing the face of college basketball.
 

Talented players now go to college for a year at least before cashing in with the NBA. Myck Kabongo became the most recent player to leave Texas early. Even though he is not a “one-and-done” athlete, he did leave for the NBA with two years of eligibility.
“It’s been my dream for a while and I felt like I was ready,” Durant said in 2007. “I had to take the opportunity. I love the game and I thought it was time.”
For both basketball and football, the importance of being drafted high is key in the decision of whether to go pro or not, as draft order is coupled with certain guaranteed salary minimums.
 

“I just don’t want to be a player in the NBA; I want to have an impact,” Durant said. “That was one of the big decisions too.”
 

Draft stock is a major factor that affects athletes who contemplate giving up college eligibility. Currently, analysts cite former USC quarterback Matt Barkley as a reason to pay attention to draft stock. Barkley was projected as a top-10 selection after his junior season but after a disappointing senior year, he fell to the fourth round, losing potentially millions of what could have been a first-round contract the year before.
 

Money is a huge motivating factor. Former Longhorn J’Covan Brown left for the NBA because he wanted to be able to financially support his family.
 

Currently, there is a rule that prevents the one-and-done trend from affecting college football — athletes must be three-years removed from high school before declaring for the NFL draft. While athletes have the opportunity to leave after their junior season for the NFL, athletes often complete most, if not all, of their college eligibility in order to increase their draft stock.
 

Current Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may be paving the way for potential college football “one-and-dones” and has contemplated leaving the Aggies after only two years. 
 

“If an opportunity comes to go to the NFL, you have to look at that,” Manziel told ESPN.
 

Many analysts admit that while young athletes would benefit the NFL, they are not physically ready to go up against other athletes. High school seniors are no match for players like Baltimore’s Ray Lewis, a linebacker with a 240-pound frame.
 

Baseball seems to be the only major sport that has developed a system that works for most players. Athletes can be drafted directly after high school but are given the option of signing with an MLB team or going to college. If they decide to go to college, then they must stay through three years or be 21 to declare for the draft.
 

Even swimming has become a potential source of athletes who choose to leave with eligibility remaining, Former Longhorn Kathleen Hersey left with two years of eligibility remaining in order to train with Texas men’s coach Eddie Reese and Longhorn Aquatics.
 

Money and the chance to compete at a higher level has created and developed the culture of forfeiting college eligibility for a professional contract. An NFL agent confirmed this with Sporting News earlier this year.
 

“The days of players coming back for the love of the game or winning a national championship are over,” the agent said.

Top Tier
Collin Klein
Senior QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 19-for-21 (91 percent) passing for 323 yards and three touchdowns, 12 rushes for 41 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and four TDS
Season: 98-for-139 (70.5 percent) passing for 1,397 yards for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, 110 rushes for 551 yards (5 yards per carry) and 14 TDS

Klein passed another test this weekend against former Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith. Following West Virginia’s win over Baylor, people were ready to hand the award to Smith, but Klein has taken over the top spot with his physical brand of football. He has made a name for himself as a runner, but it was his arm that beat the Mountaineers. He had a career day last week in one of the defining moments of the season for Kansas State.
 

Manti Te’o
Senior LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 10 tackles.
Season: 69 tackles and
four interceptions

Te’o recorded his third consecutive ten-tackle game in the win over BYU. His tackle numbers may not be as high as some other players in the country, but his impact on the game is much more significant than some others who get tackles in bulk. His 69 tackles are good for 23rd in the nation, but he leads a Notre Dame defensive unit that is second in the nation in scoring defense. He leads the way in run defense and will have another major opportunity this weekend. Notre Dame travels to Norman, Okla. to play a confident Oklahoma team that is firing on all cylinders since its bye week after the Kansas State loss. If he can shut down the Oklahoma rushing attack and force the Sooners into difficult situations, Te’o has a chance to make plays against Landry Jones, who will be leading the best offense the Irish has seen this season. Te’o cannot afford a loss if his goal is to take home the Heisman. Unfortunately, the Irish offense is nowhere near as effective as the Sooners’, which may cost him this weekend.


Rising
Kenjon Barner
Senior RB, Oregon
Last Week: 16 rushes for 143 yards (8.9 yards per carry)
Season: 132 rushes for 870 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and 12 TDs

Barner has picked up some momentum in recent weeks after a slow start to the season. He is coming off his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game, complete with a 71-yard touchdown run against Arizona State. Barner may not quite have the raw explosiveness as teammate De’Anthony Thomas, but he is a much more complete back and has the ability to run between the tackles. As Oregon continues to spread the field, lots of running lanes open for Barner in the middle of the field, which he can hit as fast as anyone in the country. He’ll face Colorado team that is allowing over 170 yards on the ground this season.

Matt Barkley
Senior QB, USC
Last Week: 19-for-20 (95 percent) for 298 yards and six TDs
Season: 140-for-213 (65 percent) for 1773 yards, 22 TDs and six interceptions
 

Barkley has put himself back in contention with a stellar performance against Colorado. He became the all-time leader for touchdown passes in the Pac 12 conference, passing Matt Leinart. Now USC is getting back to business. The Trojans are in the Top 10 and a win over Oregon would vault them right back in the national title discussion as the leader of the one-loss group. He has had a strong run over the past few weeks with 10 touchdown passes to just one interception. Barkley may have lost some momentum, but as USC gets back into spotlight games, he will start to get more attention. Wins over Oregon and Notre Dame would put Barkley right up near the top of the Heisman ranks. Fortunately for him, he likely gets two shots at Oregon. Even if USC doesn’t win both of the matchups, if Barkley performs well enough he will be back among the favorites to take home the Heisman.

AJ McCarron
Junior QB, Alabama
Last Week: 17-for-22 (77 percent) for 306 yards and four TDs
Season: 106-for-154 (69 percent) for 1,476 yards and 16 TDs

McCarron wasn’t used as the playmaker last season, but he is leading a very efficient offense this time around. He has yet to throw an interception through seven games which is unheard of, especially in the land of vaunted SEC defenses. Actually, Alabama hasn’t really played anyone who is particularly good. It crushed Michigan in the first game of the season, but hasn’t played anyone with a pulse since. But the Tide does begin a three game stretch against ranked teams this week with Mississippi State traveling to Tuscaloosa, but that isn’t the game that will give him Heisman credit. That game comes next week against LSU. That is where McCarron needs to make a name for himself.

Printed on Friday, October 26, 2012 as: Heisman watch

Heisman Hopefuls

Colin Klein used his arm and his legs to lead Kansas State to a major win in Norman. The victory over the Sooners has vaulted Kansas State into the National Title picture, and atop the Big 12.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Geno Smith - Senior QB, West Virginia
Last Week: 30-43 (69.8 percent) for 338 yards and three passing TDs.
Season: 96-118 (81.4 percent) for 1,072 yards and 12 TDs.

The Mountaineers’ signal caller is the leader of one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Smith’s profile has a chance to skyrocket over the next few weeks as West Virginia faces Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas State. West Virginia is near the bottom of the Big 12 in total defense, so for the Mountaineers to win the conference, it will be relying on Smith and the offense to carry the load.. Baylor brings one of the most high octane offenses in the nation into Morgantown, and if West Virginia is going to stay unbeaten Smith will need to be on top of his game. With both defenses near the bottom of the Big 12, Smith will have a golden opportunity to put up monster numbers and cement his place atop the Heisman race. Smith’s biggest opposition could come from his own team if Tavon Austin erupts.

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E.J. Manuel - Senior QB, Florida State
Last Week: - 27-35 (77.1 percent) for 380 yards and two passing TDs.
Season: - 69-94 (73.4 percent) for 905 yards, eight TDs and one interception.

The victory over Clemson at home was the Seminoles’ first marquee win of the season, and could be the last one. The ACC is not a strong conference this season. Outside of Florida State and Clemson, there is not another ranked team in the conference. Virginia Tech can still be dangerous, and the Seminoles have a road game against Virginia Tech in November, but that is about all the ACC has to offer. Florida State needs for Florida to continue to get better and provide another marquee game — and, for Manuel, a stage — at the end of the season. Manuel is the most dynamic player Florida State has had in years and his play has been key for the Seminoles being relevant again on the national stage.

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Colin Klein - Senior QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 13-21 (61.9 percent) for 149 yards. 17 rushes for 79 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and one TD.
Season: 56-80 (70 percent) for 758 yards for five TDs and two interceptions, 63 rushes for 289 yards(4.6 yards per carry) and five TDs.

Kansas State’s trip to Norman did more than lift the veil on a Sooners team that is filled with holes; it proved that the Wildcats are not a one-hit wonder. There is not a more disciplined and technically sound team in the country than the Wildcats, not surprising for a team coached by Bill Snyder. The other signature trait of Snyder’s teams is that they are tough, and there may not be a tougher player in the nation than the man some call “Optimus Klein.” If Kansas State wins in Morgantown in a few weeks similarly to how it won in Norman, then expect Klein to stick around on this list for a long time.

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Matt Barkley - Senior QB, USC
Last Week: 22-34 (64.7 percent) for 192 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.
Season: 88-143 (61.5 percent) for 1,005 yards, 12 TDs and five interceptions.

Barkley’s Heisman chances may have taken a shot, but they are not dead just yet. He is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country and USC can still make its way back into the National Championship chase, but it has some work to do. With only two games left against opponents currently ranked, the Trojans need to make sure they run the table in order to keep Barkley in contention. The strength of the Trojans’ schedule is at the end, with Oregon and Notre Dame both making trips to the Coliseum in November. Matchups against dangerous UCLA and Arizona State squads also highlight USC’s November schedule. Barkley will need to put up stellar numbers if he wants to climb the Heisman ladder, otherwise he is going to passed up by other players as their teams eye national titles.

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Aaron Murray - Junior QB, Georgia
Last Week: 18-24 (75 percent) for 250 yards and two TDs.
Season: 69-104 (66 percent) for 1092 yards, 10 TDs and two interceptions.

With Arkansas falling apart at the seams, Murray has dethroned Tyler Wilson as the top passer in the SEC. Murray’s stats are solid, but he has yet to play any elite competition. That should change as the Bulldogs get deeper into their SEC schedule. He will have a showdown against Tennessee’s Tyler Bray this weekend in what should mark the start of his Heisman campaign. The Dawgs’ schedule really heats up in two weeks when they head to Columbia to play South Carolina in a game that could decide the SEC East. Three weeks later, Georgia will host a tough and resurgent Florida team. If Georgia navigates its schedule, and gets past either LSU or Alabama in the SEC title game, Murray has a chance to take over the top spot in the Heisman race.

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A.J. McCarron - Junior QB, Alabama
Last Week: 15-25 (60 percent) for 212 yards and three TDs.
Season: 51-81 (63 percent) for 819 yards and 10 TDs.

The Crimson Tide is almost the unanimous choice for the top team in the country. Although most of the attention will fall on its defense, when it faces LSU, it will be up to McCarron to guide the Alabama offense to victory. Without Trent Richardson in the backfield, McCarron takes on a larger role in the offense, and he will have to show that he can take full control of the offense as defenses stack the box to stop the run. Traditionally, the quarterback on the nation’s top ranked team has a guaranteed spot in the Heisman race. While Alabama doesn’t necessarily conform to that trend, McCarron will be in the spotlight a lot as the season goes on and he belongs on this list until the Crimson Tide stumble.

Jonathan Franklin, Senior RB, UCLA

Last Week: 26 carries for 217 yards (8.3 avg.) and no touchdowns.
Season: 41 carries for 431 yards (10.5 avg.) and three touchdowns.

Franklin makes his debut to the Heisman rankings with big performance in last week’s upset over Nebraska. He is averaging an obscene 10.5 yards per carry. He has run for at least 200 yards in each of his games so far this season, and has a run of 50 yards or more in each game. He is a major part of the Bruins’ resurgence this season, and certainly has big play capability. He’ll pad his stats more this weekend as a dreadful Houston teams trudges into the Rose Bowl. The Bruins’ biggest games all fall in November, guaranteeing Franklin the opportunity to finish the season strong.


Le'Veon Bell, Junior RB, Michigan State

Last Week: 18 carries for 70 yards (3.9 avg.) and two touchdowns.
Season: 62 carries for 280 yards (4.5 avg.) and four touchdowns.

Bell didn’t a have a stellar game against Central Michigan, but it wasn’t necessary. This week should be different. Notre Dame will be in East Lansing this Saturday for one of the biggest games of the weekend. This is a huge opportunity for Bell to cement his spot near the top of the Heisman rankings. This game is also the first chance for someone to supplant Barkley. If Bell runs all over a talented Notre Dame team in a win-or even a close loss- then he can basically book himself a ticket to New York in December.


Matt Barkley, Senior QB, USC

Last Week: 23-30 (76.7 percent) for 187 yards and six touchdowns; one interception.
Season: 46-68 (67.7 percent) for 559 yards and 10 touchdowns; one interception.

Barkley continues to put up solid numbers this season with six more touchdowns added to his total. The negative from his last game is that it took so long for the Trojans to get going. Their first three drives resulted in 71 yards of offense, a punt, and two failed fourth-down attempts. But he gets a marquee matchup this week with a trip to Stanford. With a lack of depth, and a possible weakness at defense, USC will be relying on its offense to carry more weight, which means that Barkley will continue to put up big numbers by necessity.


Geno Smith, Senior QB, West Virginia

Last Week: N/A
Season: 32-36 (89 percent) for 323 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Smith got to rest last week, and returns to the campaign trail with a cake walk against James Madison. Next week’s game against Maryland should also prove to be easy for West Virginia before the real tests start for the Mountaineers and Smith. Baylor will bring a high powered offense into Morgantown for a shootout before West Virginia has to travel to Austin to play against what may be the Big 12’s best defense against Texas. If Smith can continue to put up big numbers over the next four weeks, then he has a definite chance to become the favorite for the Heisman midway through the season. who was counting him out.


De’Anthony Thomas, Sophomore RB, Oregon

Last Week: seven carries for 102 yards (14.6 avg.) and two touchdowns; four receptions for 26 yards(6.5 avg.)
Season: 10 carries for 166 yards (16.6 avg.) and three touchdowns; eight receptions for 81 yards (10.1 avg.) and two touchdowns.

Thomas may be hands down the most explosive player in the nation. He has only run the ball 10 times this season, but he is averaging over 16 yards per carry. And in Oregon’s offensive system he will have ample opportunities to provide big plays this season. The Ducks will also put Thomas anywhere on the field playing him as a receiver, a back, and he will even be a primary kick and punt returner. He gets a marquee game in two weeks against Arizona and will need to make the most of it. His problem, as with the other two West Coast players here, is he won’t always be on the national scene, being three hours behind the East Coast. So when Thomas does get the national spotlight, he has to take full advantage of it.

Heisman Watch

1. Matt Barkley, Senior QB, USC

Last Week: 23-38 (60.5 percent), 372 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

The Trojans may have lost the top spot in the polls, but Barkley retains the top spot in the Heisman watch. USC had an easy time with Hawaii, and Barkley kicked off the season well with his first pass going 75 yards for a touchdown. As long as USC wins big, and Barkley’s game doesn’t tank, then he should remain at the top. Next week’s game in Syracuse will see Barkley have another shot at shredding a pedestrian team before getting an actual test on the road against Stanford in week three.

2. Le’Von Bell, Junior RB, Michigan State

Last Week: 44 carries, 210 yards (4.8 avg), 2 touchdowns

Bell may not have wowed with the kind of explosive plays that others on this list will have, but as the best player in one of only two games between ranked teams last weekend, his performance was the most noteworthy of anyone in the country. In a tight game against Boise State, Bell proved the importance of a workhorse back. His touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave Michigan State the lead, and with his team nursing a four point lead, he bled out the clock to secure the win. A cupcake game against Central Michigan is next for Bell before Michigan State faces Notre Dame in one of the most important games on the Spartans schedule.

3. Geno Smith, Senior QB, West Virginia

Last Week: 32-36 (89 percent), 323 yards, 4 touchdowns 0 interceptions

From a numbers standpoint Smith had the most impressive start of all the Heisman hopefuls. West Virginia’s offense was firing on all cylinders as it ran right over Marshall. West Virginia only had eight third downs in the game, and had a 60 percent conversion rate. Both those stats indicate how dangerous and multiple the West Virginia offense is in the hands of Smith. Next on the chopping block is James Madison.

4. Marcus Lattimore, Junior RB, South Carolina

Last week: 23 carries, 110 yards (4.8 avg.), 2 touchdowns

The second workhorse back on this list, Lattimore had a solid showing in his first game back from injury. Unlike several others here, Lattimore had to take his talents on the road in week one. Worse yet, South Carolina had to start the season with a conference game against a scrappy Vanderbilt team looking to make a statement. He showed a glimpse of what he was capable of with a 29 yard touchdown run to give the Gamecocks the lead, but didn’t look as dynamic as he was before last season’s knee surgery. Considering the lack of explosiveness for South Carolina, expect Lattimore to get more and more work. And as he gets more comfortable coming back from his injury, Lattimore will start making more big plays.

5. Montee Ball, Senior RB, Wisconsin

Last week: 32 carries, 120 yards (3.8 avg.), 1 touchdown

If Ball wants to hang in the Heisman race, then he will have to perform better than he did last week. His yardage total is respectable if taken out of the game early, but Ball was in the entire time, and Wisconsin got all it could handle late from Northern Iowa. The touchdown factory that was Ball last season was not on display as he only crossed the goal line once. The biggest knock on that game was that, with Northern Iowa taking all the momentum, Ball could not bleed the clock out until the final possession of the game. With a 12-point lead entering the fourth quarter, ball ran for six yards on three possessions until finally managing 24 in the last two minutes.

Marcus Lattimore started his season off well, running for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks' season-opening win over Vanderbilt Thursday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

1. Matt Barkley - Senior QB, Southern California

Barkley is the de-facto Heisman leader heading into the season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. He is burdened with guiding a thin USC team to a National Championship and brushed away a spot in the NFL in order to come back for his senior season. He passed for 3,528 yards last season, along with 39 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions. While he may be the most talented quarterback in the nation, recent history says he is facing an uphill battle. With all eyes on him this season, if he doesn’t produce stellar numbers, then he his stock will drop. Andrew Luck entered last season as the massive favorite and left empty-handed. Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy all came back for another season in 2009 only to see Mark Ingram sneak up and take the Heisman. It’s why the games are played every week.

2. Marcus Lattimore - Junior RB, South Carolina

The most talented offensive weapon in the SEC has something to prove this season. After injuring his knee against Mississippi State in late October, Lattimore missed the final six games of the season in 2011. Though South Carolina went 5-1 in those final six games, a 16-point loss to Arkansas could have had a little different result with South Carolina’s best player on the field. Additionally, a win in that game would have propelled South Carolina into the SEC title game. With 110 yards on 23 carries to go along with a pair of touchdowns in a close victory over Vanderbilt in Thursday’s opener, he’s already made a statement.

3. Montee Ball - Senior RB, Wisconsin

A year removed from setting all sorts of records in the Big Ten, Ball also spurned an opportunity in the NFL to return for his senior season in Madison. The workhorse for the Badgers ran for nearly 2,000 yards and led the nation in scoring with 39 touchdowns in 2011. Ball carried the rock 307 times last season and his load should increase with the departure of quarterback Russell Wilson. But as he becomes the focus of opposing defenses, he will need his new quarterback, Danny O’Brien, to pull some of the defenders out of the box to give him running room. And with 568 carries so far in his carrer, he has a lot of wear on his tires, and it could start to show this season. Ball’s biggest opponent may be himself: if he can’t repeat his historic output from last season, then his stock will drop throughout the season.

4. Denard Robinson-Senior QB, Michigan

Many consider Robinson to be the most electric player in the country heading into the season, and with the expectations surrounding Michigan has this season, he will be in the spotlight often. He will have many chances to wow the voters, and his first test comes in the season opener against Alabama. If he is able to slice through the Tide defense like he did often last year, then he will be the early frontrunner. But in the same vein, his campaign could be derailed if the Alabama defense shuts him down. Entering his third year as starter, Robinson’s numbers actually went down last season from the previous one; he showed a decrease in rushing totals, as well as a significant drop in completion percentage. In order for him to be a legitimate Heisman contender, he has to be able to distribute the ball with his arm, not just those unlaced shoes.

5. Everyone else

The field has produced the last three Heisman winners: Robert Griffin III out of Baylor, Cam Newton of Auburn, and Ingram during Alabama’s first national title run under Nick Saban. This year’s field features Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, Oregon backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas, and Geno Smith of West Virginia. Additionally, the field includes every other player in America. If Barkley loses two games, Lattimore and Ball both fail to carry the load as the main focus of their offenses and if Robinson is unable to make strides this season, then the Heisman race will be wide open for anyone who is propelling their team towards the top of the national rankings. Watch out for Stanford freshman running back Barry Sanders Jr. — he’s got a great name.

All stats and numbers obtained from either ESPN.com or the official NCAA statistics site.