By: Danny Maher
Aaron Murray is a legitimate Heisman candidate for 2012.
The 77th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation will take place Saturday night in New York City, crowning the best college football player for the 2011 season. This year’s race looks to be one of the closest in years. But it is never too early to see who are the frontrunners are for next year’s Heisman Trophy. Given Andrew Luck, Montee Ball, LaMichael James and Trent Richardson all leave for the NFL and the entire following do stay for another season, here are our early favorites.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
After appearing to be an early Heisman threat this season, Robinson has tapered off in the second half of the year, two seasons in row. In 2011, Robinson finished top five in the Big Ten in passing and rushing yards. He also had 34 total touchdowns.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Murray helped lead Georgia to the SEC title game with 33 touchdown passes. Murray looks to be the third Bulldog to win the award, the first since Herschel Walker won in 1982.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The O’Brien Award winner, 2011 Second Team All-American and a finalist for the 2011 Heisman, Griffin can burn you with his arm as well as his feet. He is top five in the country in passing touchdowns and completion percentage. Griffin threw for 36 touchdowns to only six interceptions. It is possible Griffin leaves Baylor after this his redshirt junior season in Waco. Read about the real RG3 by clicking here.
Tahj Boyd burst onto the national scene in 2011. AP Photo/ Richard Shiro
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
First in the ACC in virtually all passing categories, Boyd looks to build on the Tigers Orange Bowl berth for next season.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Geno is first in the Big East with 3,978 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes. Smith can improve in his third year as a starter and could be the first Mountaineer to win the Heisman.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
After an impressive freshman year including 17 rushing touchdowns, Lattimore was cut short of a great second season, missing the last five games due to a torn knee ligament, but was still able to score ten rushing touchdowns.
Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn
Dyer’s 1,242 rushing yards are second in the SEC, only behind Trent Richardson. Dyer was a key member of the Auburn national championship team a year ago.
Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
This freshman burst onto the ACC scene in 2011 with 13 rushing touchdowns. If Bernard can burst onto the national scene, he will be the first Tar Heel to win the Heisman.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State
Hillman is a true dark horse for next year’s Heisman but with 1,656 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, it will be tough to not notice this Aztec.
Like Lattimore, if Davis is fully healthy in 2012 he will be in the Heisman discussion.
Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Davis led all SEC running backs in 2010 with 1,322 rushing yards but missed the entire 2011 season due to and ankle injury.
Robert Woods, WR, USC
Top ten in the country with 11 receptions, 1,292 receiving yards, and 15 receiving touchdowns. Woods looks to become the first wide receiver to win the award since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The freshman Tiger receiver proved to be Tajh Boyd’s favorite target, bringing in 78 receptions, 11 for touchdowns.
Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
Bailey made the most of his 67 receptions, ranking first in the Big East with 1,197 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns.
Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
Borland was second in the Big Ten with 131 tackles and ranked third in the conference with 18 tackles for loss.
Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
The transfer from USC finished 2011 second in the nation with 13.5 sacks and first in the SEC with 19.5 tackles for loss. Jones was also named a First Team All-American.
David Amerson, DB, NC State
The sophomore led the nation with 11 interceptions and was also name to the First Team All-American team. If Amerson wins the Heisman, he will be the second defensive back to do so. Charles Woodson won in 1997.
Readers have pointer out we should add:
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Wilson earned All-SEC honors in 2011 and will look for another big season in 2012 despite losing three of his top wide receivers.
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
The Honey Badger is a finalist in 2011. Can he duplicate his astounding success in 2012?
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Will Barkley return for 2012? I doubt it, but if so he will be on the early list.
David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
As a junior, Wilson rushed for 1627 yards in the regular season. Will he return to Blacksburg for 2012? If so, add him to the list.
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