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NCAA Football

Top 10 Candidates to Win the 2013 Heisman Trophy

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Top 10 2013 Heisman Trophy Candidates

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Kirby Lee - USA TODAY SPORTS

The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was fairly clean-cut, as Texas A&M Aggies freshman phenom quarterback Johnny Manziel sliced and diced SEC defenses all season long. A couple of the guys on our list of the top 10 2013 Heisman Trophy candidates, were nominally Manziel's competitors for the award this season, but in reality, it never really was in question.

While it's certainly possible Manziel could repeat -- especially given the wealth of talent surrounding him in College Station and the first-tier recruiting class arriving on campus for 2013 -- several of our candidates are in great positions themselves to make an impact and a run at college football's biggest award.

As usual, our list includes some skill position players with whom you are likely familiar, but there's also a few names that caught our eye during the 2012 season we believe could make a huge leap in 2013 and be a part of the Heisman conversation as the season winds down and finalists are announced.

Sit back and enjoy our list of the Top 10 Heisman Trophy Candidates for 2013!

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Teddy Bridgewater - QB - Lousiville Cardinals

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Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY SPORTS

Louisville Cardinals sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater may not be the purest quarterback in college football, but what he lacks in "flash factor" he makes up for in pure love for the game and unquestionable toughness. Bridgwater's numbers were solid in 2012 as he tallied 3,718 yards passing with 27 touchdown passes versus only eight interceptions. With a whole second season as a starter under his belt, Bridgewater has the tools and talent to make a serious run at the Heisman Trophy in 2013. If I'm an opposing defensive coordinator, Bridgewater will be a part of my nightmares for some time to come.

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Aaron Murray - QB - Georgia Bulldogs

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Paul Abell - USA TODAY SPORTS

While he struggled when his team needed him most, Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray has made the decision to return to Athens for his senior season, and given this along with the talent that's returning with him, is a guy to watch in the early Heisman trophy race in 2013. Murray threw for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2012, versus only 10 interceptions, but tended to make tough mistakes when they could least be afforded. If Murray can make his way through 2013 with amped up numbers and limited turnovers, he could well be one of the finalists invited to the Big Apple by the New York Downtown Athletic Club in December.

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Eddie Lacy - RB - Alabama Crimson Tide

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John David Mercer - USA TODAY SPORTS

While his numbers may not have been as eye-popping in 2012 as our other 2013 Heisman Trophy candidates, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy came up big when it mattered most, shredding the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense in the BCS National Championship for 140 yards and a touchdown. Lacy has that "it" factor that's hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. Sure, Lacy may have to share some carries with T.J. Yeldon in 2013, but if he makes the most of the opportunities he's provided, his numbers will be hard to deny come next December.

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De'Anthony Thomas - RB - Oregon Ducks

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Richard Mackson - USA TODAY SPORTS

One of the dynamic duo of Oregon Ducks running backs in 2012 that also included speedster Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas ran all over PAC-12 defenses this season en route to 701 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. Without Barner in 2013, Thomas will be the featured back in Eugene and will have a ton of opportunities to rack up some more highlight-worthy, explosive plays and begin to build his 2013 Heisman Trophy resume early on.

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Marqise Lee - WR - USC Trojans

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Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY SPORTS

USC Trojans star wideout Marqise Lee put up massive numbers in 2012, accounting for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns almost in spite of the on-again, off-again performance from early-2012 Heisman candidate Matt Barkley. Lee is one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in college football -- often drawing comparisons to guys like Julio Jones and A.J. Green -- but without the quick emergence of young QB Max Wittek, may be one of the longer shots on our list. If Wittek matures quickly, however, watch out for Mr. Lee.

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Tajh Boyd - QB - Clemson Tigers

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Daniel Shirley - USA TODAY SPORTS

Just today, Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd announced he would be returning for his senior season, much to the delight of the Tiger faithful across the country. At times the most explosive quarterback in the country in 2012, Boyd racked up 3,896 yards passing, firing off 36 touchdown passes versus only 13 interceptions. With two of the country's top wideouts in Nuk Hopkins and Sammy Watkins returning in 2013, Boyd will have a serious arsenal of weapons to help him finish his career in style with a Heisman Trophy run.

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Duke Johnson - RB - Miami Hurricanes

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Robert Mayer - USA TODAY SPORTS

While maybe not the most recognizable name on our list, Miami Hurricanes true freshman running back Duke Johnson is one to keep an eye on. Among the freshman leaders in rushing this season, the Miami native racked up 947 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season, earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors in the process. The 5'9" workhorse has just scratched the surface of his potential, potential which could earn him a shot at the Heisman next fall with a solid start.

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Johnny Manziel - QB - Texas A&M Aggies

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Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY SPORTS

By now, you've all heard of Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and redshirt freshman signal caller for the Texas A&M Aggies. While Manziel is losing one of his two offensive line stalwarts as junior tackle Luke Joeckel has declared himself eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft, there's plenty of experience still on board in College Station and the Aggies' O-Line shouldn't miss a beat in 2013. That, combined with a talent-rich cadre of skill position guys doesn't rule out the possibility of Manziel becoming the first back-to-back Heisman winner since Archie Manning.

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Braxton Miller - QB - Ohio State Buckeyes

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Mary Langenfeld - USA TODAY SPORTS

Certain to be one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten in 2013, Ohio State Buckeyes signal caller Braxton Miller, in fact, led his team to a perfect 12-0 record this season and would have been competing for a National Championship under different circumstances. Miller is the classic dual-threat QB who will be looking to improve upon a 2012 campaign that saw him throw for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns, but run for 1, 271 more yards and 13 more touchdowns. No matter how you gameplan for Miller, you're wrong, and that fact alone should make him a Heisman candidate in 2013 when all restrictions are lifted from the Buckeyes.

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Jadeveon Clowney - DE - South Carolina Gamecocks

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Kim Klement - USA TODAY SPORTS

While it's often to compare top-notch defensive players with offensive players when it comes to Heisman Trophy conversations -- it's a very apples and oranges situation -- there's no doubt that South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be a part of the conversation in 2013. Clowney is arguably the best individual defensive talent in the last five seasons, and regardless of the futile efforts of opposing offensive coordinators, will wreak even more havoc in 2013.

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