LaMichael James Skyrockets To Heisman Frontrunner

By Tony Piraro

My Previous Heisman Rankings: 

1) Andrew Luck, Stanford QB

2) Trent Richardson, Alabama RB

3) Kellen Moore, Boise State QB

4) Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State WR

5) LaMichael James, Oregon RB

Just Missed The List:

1) Brandon Weeden, QB (Oklahoma State)

2) Montae Ball, RB (Wisconsin)

3) Sammy Watkins, WR (Clemson)

4) Russell Wilson, QB (Wisconsin)

5) Tajh Boyd, QB (Clemson)

A lot has transpired in the past week, therefore my rankings look a bit different this week. This is college football for you. Every time a ranked team loses or a player in my top 5 has a poor showing, they automatically will fall down or off my list. For example, Trent Richardson and Alabama fell last week, sliding him down and out of my rankings for the time being. Therefore, no matter how great Richardson’s stats still appear, he must fall out of my top 5 for the time being. If he makes a case the rest of the season and some other undefeated teams lose, no doubt Trent Richardson will be back in my top 3. If a team falls out of contention, the players chances of winning the Heisman decreases over time as well. Now, for my Heisman candidate rankings amidst week 11 of the college football season…

1) LaMichael James, RB (#6 Oregon, 9-1)

My frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy all season has been Mr. James. After missing a few games with injury, James has returned to action in fine fashion. LaMichael was leading the Heisman rankings for me before he was injured, but I couldn’t justify keeping him in the top-spot after missing multiple games. The man, the myth, the Oregon legend rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries Saturday night against No. 3 Stanford. LaMichael now has 1,207 yards rushing on the season, alongside 13 touchdowns on the ground, 14 total in just eight games played in 2011. Before going down with injury, James rushed for over 200-plus yards in three straight games and added 6 touchdowns in that span. Truthfully speaking, James went down while he was at his peak performance level. Saturday night, the Oregon running back regained anything he was missing, as he rushed for over 160 yards and three scores against an undefeated Stanford team. Unless someone comes out of nowhere, I don’t see LaMichael James losing any ground on the Heisman if Oregon keeps winning. It is his award to lose.

2) Brandon Weeden, QB (#2 Oklahoma State, 10-0)

Brandon Weeden is on my list for the first time this season and it’s long overdue. The Oklahoma State quarterback has remained off the top 5 due to some turnover issues earlier in the season. His nine interceptions on the season don’t look so bad when he throws for five TD’s and no picks in a game, like he did Saturday afternoon. Weeden went on to throw for 423 yards, alongside the five touchdown passes, two to Blackmon, as OK State rolled past Texas Tech, 66-6, in Texas. For the season, the Heisman hopeful has thrown for 3,635 yards and 31 touchdowns with nine interceptions. That is a good season total for most quarterbacks, but Weeden still has at least three games remaining to pad his stats. As of now, he remains within striking distance of LaMichael James. A win over Oklahoma on December 3 would lead Weeden into the Hesiman top-spot ahead of James. However, he still has some work to do with lowly Iowa State next weekend.

3) Justin Blackmon (#2 Oklahoma State, 10-0)

Welcome to the top 3 of my rankings for the first time this season, Justin. I have been waiting to put this guy on my list all year, but his numbers haven’t justified his pre-season Heisman rankings until the last month. Last year he was higher on most people’s award list, but his Cowboys weren’t living up to the BCS National Title landscape. This year is a different story entirely as OK State is ranked No. 2 in the nation and is unbeaten through 10 games of football. Blackmon went off once again this week, following up his 13 grab for 205 yards and 2 TD performance last Saturday, with six grabs for 106 yards and two TD’s. In total, the wide receiver has an insane 93 catches for 1,145 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2011. If his team remains unbeaten, look for Blackmon to move up my list steadily. He is reminding the community in Stillwater of a former alum named Dez Bryant with his outstanding season.

4) Andrew Luck, QB (#3 Stanford, 9-1)

Usually a guy who throws two interceptions in a game is thrown off my list before his game ends…But most guys aren’t Andrew Luck. He is still impressive, and so are his numbers and his team’s track record. His loss to Oregon will definitely prevent him from being ahead of LaMichael James, but it doesn’t mean something couldn’t change down the road. Luck threw for 241 yards and three TD’s, alongside his two interceptions in the drubbing to Oregon. Luck lost the top-spot on my list this week after failing to back it up on the field against No. 6 Oregon. He now awaits a major upset in the last few weeks of the college football regular season, so that maybe he can slip back into the mix. He may and probably will be the No. 1 overall pick in next years NFL Draft, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to win the Heisman. Through 10 games, Luck has thrown for 2,665 yards in the air with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while rushing for two TD’s to give him a grand total of 31 touchdowns this season. That’s tough to beat, but three guys ahead of him are…

5) Montae Ball, RB (#18 Wisconsin, 8-2)

I don’t care what you say about the Badgers unlucky record. This man is a machine and has surpassed his impressive teammate Russell Wilson on the Heisman rankings. Ball has 27 total touchdowns already this season. That comes alongside playing in the run-stout, defensive minded B1G 10 Conference on a week-to-week basis. Ball rushed for over 200 yards and four TD’s last week against Purdue, then added 166 yards on 23 carries with three total touchdowns on Saturday afternoon at Minnesota. The Badgers back has rushed for 1,242 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns in 2011. He also has three receiving touchdowns and one passing touchdown to his quarterback, Russell Wilson. If the Badgers keep winning and end up in the B1G 10 Championship Game, look for a reservation to be made for Ball at the Heisman Trophy presentation.

Just Missed The List, But On The Rise….Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama) Sammy Watkins, WR (Clemson) Russell Wilson, QB (Wisconsin) Kellen Moore, QB (Boise State)

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