Each week, Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, breaks down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award.
1. JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE
With the Heisman voting deadline looming Monday and an apparent resolution to his legal issues likely to come before then, Winston returns with a shaky nod to the top of our list. Winston’s numbers (3,490 yards, 35 TDs, 8 INTs passing; 12-0 No. 1-ranked team) are undeniable. But undoubtedly, some voters will vote him down or leave him off their three-man ballot altogether.
2. JORDAN LYNCH, QB, NORTHERN ILLINOIS
With Alabama losing, Lynch replaces AJ McCarron as the safe alternative to Winston. Lynch has brilliant numbers (2,457 yards passing, 1,755 yards rushing, 22 TDs passing, 20 TDs rushing), just the 5th quarterback throw and run for 20 TDs in the same season. Three of the others (Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, Tim Tebow) won the Heisman), but the big difference is they all played for major college teams.
3. JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M
Manziel picked the wrong time to have his two worst games of the season vs. LSU, Missouri, but the fact remains his passing numbers (218 of 317, 3,490 yards, 35 TDs, 8 INTs) are better than in 2012. He’ll be a finalist, but that’s all.
4. AJ McCARRON, QB, ALABAMA
McCarron and the Crimson Tide were poised on the brink of history — until the missed field goal TD return. But just think: If Nick Saban had him throw a Hail Mary with :01 left at Auburn and it worked, McCarron would have already won the Heisman Trophy.
5. ANDRE WILLIAMS, RB, BOSTON COLLEGE
A candidacy that may have ended before it began with an injury last week vs. Syracuse, Williams remains on the radar because his numbers are so impressive (2,102 yards, 17 TDs).
ON THE RADAR (alphabetically)
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor