Each week I will evaluate the Heisman Trophy race with a top 5 list compiled of the nation’s best offensive football players, in my opinion. On most occasions the Heisman winner is synonymous with the teams involved in the BCS national championship race. Therefore, my rankings will be intertwined with the AP Top #25 rankings each week. I believe since most teams have played cupcakes on their schedule the first few weeks of the season, week four is as good a time as any to begin looking at Heisman candidates. This is the time of the year when teams and players start getting down to business.
1) Marcus Lattimore, RB (#12 South Carolina, 3-0)
The sophomore stud is posting incredible numbers so far this season. Lattimore has 534 rushing yards on a BCS-high 87 rushing attempts in 2011. He has seven touchdowns on the ground, alongside his 6.1 yard per carry average. If teams don’t figure out how to slow down Lattimore, they will not be able to slow down #12 South Carolina this season.
2) LaMichael James, RB (#10 Oregon, 2-1)
My frontrunner before the season started to win the Heisman was LaMichael James. If it wasn’t for Lattimore at South Carolina, we’d all be talking about James. His 204-yard and three touchdown night last week amped his stats back to superstar status. James has carried the ball just 42 times this season for 325 yards, an incredible clip of 7.7 yards per carry. LaMichael also has nine catches for 144 yards and a touchdown, placing him just behind the top candidate. #10 Oregon can definitely rebound for a special season, even after their week-one loss at LSU.
3) Russell Wilson, QB (#6 Wisonsin, 3-0)
Wilson is the centerpiece of the Badgers National Title hopes this season. After a standout career in the ACC at North Carolina State, Wilson has taken over the reigns and the national spotlight. So far in limited action, the quarterback has thrown for 791 yards and eight touchdowns to just one interception, on just 66 attempts. Russell has also run the ball 11 times for 110 yards and a TD, exemplifying his Heisman candidacy as a multi-dimensional quarterback. Not to mention, the Badgers signal caller is leading #6 ranked Wisconsin to a 3-0 record in fine fashion. With each win, his stock rises.
4) Andrew Luck, QB (#5 Stanford, 3-0)
So far, Luck has shown that the hype is not getting to him. He is already projected to be the top overall pick in next years NFL Draft and the John Elway comparison’s are getting repetitive. Still, this kid finds a way to excel on Saturday’s. This season is no different as Luck has thrown for 786 yards and eight touchdowns, without yielding an interception. His head coach is gone and he doesn’t have the same weapons around him, yet Luck is making the most of his situation as he leads undefeated Stanford toward the promise land. In the meantime, he may just lead himself to the Heisman Trophy presentation.
5) Robert Griffin III, QB (#17 Baylor, 2-0)
One of the most explosive athletes in the country just happens to be the Baylor Bears quarterback as well. Griffin is a highly-publicized track star in the hurdles. Olympic aspirations may come true someday, but this week he is worried about leading his #17 ranked Bears past Rice. Griffin has thrown for 624 yards through the air, alongside eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also run the ball 18 times for 116 yards, a 6.4 yard per carry average. If the Bears have any chance of a BCS game, it all rests on the shoulders (or legs) of Robert Griffin III. He is a playmaker of epic proportions.
On The Rise….Sammy Watkins, WR (Clemson) Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State) Joseph Randle, RB (Oklahoma State) Taylor Martinez, QB (Nebraska)