To say that the final 2012 Heisman Candidate List left a lot to be desired would certainly be putting it nicely. The Candidate Selection seemed forced, which in fact is another way to put it nicely. The Heisman isn’t like the Baseball HOF voting, meaning if there’s a year where no one is standing out in an attempt to earn the coveted trophy or separating themselves from the others, we simply can't have a season in which NO ONE wins it. There must be a Heisman trophy winner every season no matter how lack luster or boring the candidates are or appear to be. This really isn’t a knock on this past season’s winner; Johnny Manziel who I think was a perfect candidate and certainly earned the award as he epitomizes what the Award stands for. It was the candidates outside of Manziel that no one seemed to get excited about for more than one reason. Sure the “numbers” the other candidates put up were “respectable” numbers but nothing that defines what the Heisman trophy really is.
The Heisman Trophy is the award for the best college football player and there’s seemingly nothing wrong with wanting the “best player” to be an impactful player putting up ELITE numbers enroute to being the “best player” in the country and that’s what we had in Manziel which why there essentially was no doubt that he would win it. So now that we understand that, I’m certain most are wondering just what will next season’s Heisman Candidates list look like and at the very least hoping that it will be better than 2012’s candidates. The answer, by my expectations and accounts is “yes”……yes it SHOULD and most likely WILL be better and more exciting. My early list of legitimate Heisman candidates for 2013 consists of 3 QBs and 1 defensive player and those players are;
- 1. Johnny Manziel –
Many people who didn’t watch Manziel play for whatever reason simply knows him as the QB that won the Heisman but many don’t really grasp the reality of the season he had and hasn’t even put it in perspective yet. Since I had the luxury and privilege of watching Manziel play every week I understand just how dominate and electrifying the kid was but let me put it on paper for those who didn’t have the privilege and who only know what they’ve heard….. 68% comp%, 3,706 yards passing, 26 TDs - 9 ints, 155.32 QBR, 1,410 yards rushing, 21 rushing TDs.
Those numbers are Heisman worthy numbers BY DEFINTION. The kid simply played big boy football in 2012 and there’s essentially NO reason to believe he can’t duplicate or surpass his 2012 success in 2013. Manziel will lose his stud blind side protector in Luke Joeckel as Joeckel will declare for the NFL draft but Manziel will have his other stud Tackle Jake Matthews in place for his 2013 Heisman campaign.
- 2. Teddy Bridgewater –
Like Manizel, Bridgewater is a prospect whose production outside of his fan base got around more by word of mouth.The Louisville Cardinal QB started turning heads late in the 2012 season and by the time Bowl Season had come around, Bridgewater was on the “Stud” map.The kid is certainly a stud and is not only a legit threat to prevent Manziel from repeating as Heisman winner but like Manziel, he’s shaping up to be a “can’t miss” QB prospect that will have NFL scouts and coaches salivating over the thought of him behind center on their respective teams.
Bridgewater’s numbers this past season were very similar to Manziel’s minus the rushing stats; 3,718 yards passing, 27 TDs with 8 ints and a 160.5 QBR, truly impressive numbers.
Bridgewater was also the MVP of the 2013 Sugar Bowl as he threw for 266 yards and 2 TDs but the thing that separates Bridgewater apart from other QBs that may have good seasons next year is the fact that Bridgewater’s arm already looks the part of a NFL arm.He makes NFL throws and makes them look easy, his pocket presence is veteran like and his poise under pressure is very impressive to say the least.Bridgewater will probably get more national attention next season now that he’s on the radar and I for one don’t think he’ll disappoint.
- 3. AJ McCarron –
The 2012 BCS Champion has once again elevated his playing level in the postseason but unlike last season’s BCS Title game; McCarron may have catapulted himself into the 2013 Heisman race with his performance that was nothing short of magnificent.McCarron had an elite running game at his disposal the entire season but managed to put up very respectable numbers indeed.
McCarron threw for 2,933 yards, 30 TDs, 3 ints, 175 QBR but in the BCS Title game vs. Notre Dame, McCarron looked like a QB that would give Heisman voters something good to taste next season.McCarron completed about 70% of his passes, 264 yards passing and 4 TDs but the numbers didn’t tell the entire story as McCarron’s pocket presence and poise looked essentially NFL ready.It’s easy to understand why McCarron looked the part behind such a studly O-line so it will be interesting to see how he looks next season with 3 of his O-lineman leaving for the draft (Warmack, Jones and Fluker) but from all accounts and because of McCarron’s decision to stay at Alabama another season, I see no reason why McCarrons cant inject himself in the Heisman 2013 race.
- 4. Jadeveon Clowney –
There simply hasn’t been a more consistent and electrifying player on defense the past 2 season than University of South Carolina’s Defensive End, Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney possess the ability to take over a game defensively, that’s how good and effective he is at what he does.Clowney has elite pass rushing and tackling ability and has had it since becoming a freshman at University of South Carolina.Clowney has been turning heads for 2 seasons now and in his 3rd season at University of South Carolina I believe we can expect Clowney to make a legitimate run at the Heisman Trophy.This past season Clowney was tied for 3rd in the nation in sacks, his total season stat line includes 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks and 3 forced fumbles, not to mention in his final game of the season vs. Clemson, Clowney sacked talented Clemson QB Tajh Boyd 4.5 times.
This past season, Clowney won the Ted Hendricks Award as the Nation’s Best DE and was a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Lombardi Award. He was voted by fans to be the 2012 AT&T All-America Player of the Year.
Simply put; defensive players don’t win the Heisman Trophy….literally. The only pure defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy in its history is Michigan’s Cornerback Charles Woodson, so to say that its “uncommon” for defensive players to win the coveted award is a massive understatement. But that doesn’t change the fact that once in every blue moon, we have that one defensive player like Charles Woodson that can actually change and impact games with their elevated and elite abilities and that’s who Clowney is, and that is what he can do. He is that impact player that will put up numbers next season but will also make game impacting plays, plays that in turn will legitimize his run at the 2013 Heisman.