These candidates are making their case for why they should be awarded the sport’s most prestigious trophy. Each week, TSL will deliberate over each player’s weekly exploits. After the month of September we rank where the candidates stand.
Last September, ESPN's Mark May was the most vocal of a slew of analysts who were ready to hand Geno Smith the Heisman in September. Hopefully, this year's Heisman frontrunner doesn't completely fall off in the next month or two.
1. Johnny Manziel – After the first five games of his freshman campaign, Manziel had accounted for 1,780 total yards and 18 touchdowns. That was before he even earned a mention in the Heisman conversation. This season, he‘s accounted for 1,703 yards and 17 touchdowns despite taking a break against Rice. Is there anyone out there who has had a Geno Smith-like September? No.
2. Marcus Mariota – His 11-for-25 performance against Cal occurred in the rain, but Oregon’s quarterback position is a lot like James Bond. The role produces megastars, but it’s hard to gauge how much credit for success goes to the brand name system. It takes a special performance to put him in that Sean Connery territory. Until we see him go into Golden Gun mode and start shredding a top-15 team, we can’t place him over Manziel.
3. Brett Hundley – Hundley couldn’t have emerged at a better time. While the Trojans search for their next golden quarterback, Hundley’s taken the nation by storm. October and November are where he can leave his mark.
4. Aaron Murray – After the Clemson loss Murray’s big game credentials were under siege. Since then, he’s made up for UGA’s porous pass defense without any standout receivers (after Malcolm Mitchell tore his ACL in the end zone during the first quarter of their season opener) and has led the Bulldogs to a 3-1 record after rushing through the meat of their schedule while most of the nation was chowing on FCS squads. Todd Gurley would be on this list ahead of Murray if he could stay healthy.
5. Blake Bell – He’s only started two games, but there’s no denying the impact he’s made on Oklahoma’s offense. His 88.4 QBR is the seventh-highest in the nation.
6. Brandin Cooks – This list is too bland without throwing some positional diversity to season the pot. Sure quarterbacks are the most valuable position in football, but these rankings should factor in the value of a player respective to fellow athletes at the same position. Cooks tried to lobby for Sean Mannion’s Heisman candidacy after the game, but it should have been the other way around. Cooks is putting up some Michael Crabtree-type numbers. Besides an interception and a 52 percent completion rate left Mannion with a 48.8 QBR last weekend.
Alternates: Lache Seastrunk, Bryce Petty, Ka’Deem Carey, Bishop Sankey, Tajh Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater