While the 2013 Heisman Trophy was only just handed out a few days ago, it’s never too early to take a look ahead and postulate on who will be in the running next season. This year gave us a dominant, landslide victory for Jameis Winston, befitting of the season that the Florida State Seminoles have had in 2013. Winston will undoubtedly be the front-runner to repeat as the Heisman winner next fall but should his production dip, Todd Gurley will be right there to pull ahead as an early Heisman contender for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2014.
If he had stayed healthy this season, there is a good chance that Gurley could have made his way to New York City last Saturday. Despite missing three games and looking hobbled in a couple others, though, Gurley was dynamic in 2013, accumulating 1,200 total yards of offense and 15 touchdowns. He is a total package out of the backfield with size, speed, and toughness which makes him a matchup nightmare for opponents. He will likely see an expanded role in the Georgia offense next season as the Bulldogs make a run at the SEC title.
While running backs have had a hard time winning the award in recent history, they picked up a bit of momentum this season with two running backs getting invited to New York City as finalists this season. Though Andre Williams rushed for 2,102 yards this season and couldn’t finish higher than fourth in the final tally, having some backs represented is a step up from the 2012 presentation when zero backs made the trip. Gurley is capable of being a dynamic threat out of the backfield with the ball in his hands, though he will be hard-pressed to match Williams’ production in a losing effort.
There’s still much to be decided about how the Georgia offense will operate following the graduation of Aaron Murray. Hutson Mason is stepping in and many in the program are excited to see what he can do. If he steps in and maintains the passing game with their stable of receivers returning next fall, that will open up defenses to the running game and Gurley. While he will likely split time in the backfield with fellow back Keith Marshall (taking away touches and production), Gurley has the game-changing ability that could take him all the way to a Heisman in 2014.