Oltmanns: Some unexpected players emerging as Heisman hopefuls

By Alex Oltmanns

We’re still in the early going for the college football season, but it’s never too early to… We’re still in the early going for the college football season, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the Heisman Trophy.

With all the talk about Reggie Bush giving his Heisman back, it got me thinking about who’s positioned themselves as the top five front-runners for the award this season.

5. Kellen Moore — QB Boise State. Like the song says, all he does is win. Moore is 19-1 in his collegiate career and it’s looking like that trend will continue as this season progresses. The only thing that hurts him is the fact that his team is in a smaller conference and doesn’t play many high-caliber teams. But he still made a statement in the season’s opening week when he led the Broncos to a win against Virginia Tech and passed for three touchdowns. If he can lead his team to a win over Oregon State this week, the rest of Boise State’s schedule sets up for what could be another undefeated season.

4. Ryan Mallett — QB Arkansas. The former transfer from Michigan has made his presence felt in the Southeastern Conference and is establishing himself as arguably the best quarterback in college football. He’s coming off a 380-yard, three touchdown performance against Georgia on Saturday, where he threw a 40-yard touchdown with 15 seconds left to take the lead. His 6-foot-6 frame makes him stand out, but his stats do even more. After three games this season he has 1,081 passing yards, nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. His matchup against Alabama this week will say a lot about his Heisman candidacy.

3. Mark Ingram — RB Alabama. Yes, I know that he’s the incumbent winner of the award, and missing the first two games of the season with an injury allowed other players to steal some of his spotlight, but he made an emphatic return to the field on Saturday, with a 151-yard output on only nine carries against Duke. What will hurt Ingram’s chances even more is the fact that the Crimson Tide features another future NFL-caliber back in Trent Richardson, so Ingram might not see as heavy a workload this year. Add to that the fact that there’s only ever been one repeat winner of the award  — Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975 — and Ingram’s chances go down even more.

2. Terrelle Pryor — QB Ohio State. The Pittsburgh native is showing everyone why he was the high school player of the year in 2008 as he leads the Buckeyes, who are on their way to No. 2 in the polls, in both passing and rushing. He already has a signature victory this year with a 36-24 win against Miami where he couldn’t be contained, rushing for 113 yards. If Ohio State runs the table in the regular season, which is a real possibility, then Pryor will probably win the Heisman, but that’s a long way to go.

1. Denard Robinson — QB Michigan. Robinson has burst onto the scene after three games this season to emerge as the most electrifying player in college football right now, and it’s not even close. I mean, c’mon. This guy is the leading rusher in the NCAA and he plays quarterback. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds and he doesn’t even tie his shoes, earning him the nickname “shoelace.” Michigan needs to keep winning for Robinson to win the trophy though, because if it starts losing games when its tough Big Ten schedule rolls around, Robinson’s Heisman hopes will take a serious hit.

Now, it’s early, and this list could change drastically as the season continues. Pitt’s own Dion Lewis’ Heisman chances went down after the teams’ first couple of games, but don’t count out the former Big East Offensive Player of the year.

A win against Miami on Thursday night could go a long way to putting him back in the forefront of the Heisman conversation.