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Re: 2006 preview: Top 100 Heisman candidates
hopefully i can post the rest on this last post
38. QB Kyle Wright, Miami – On paper, Wright’s a Heisman contender. On film, he’s still a young quarterback with a lot to learn. His 2005 numbers were okay, but were largely built against basketball schools, such as Duke, Temple and Wake Forest. The ‘Cane offense will be under the microscope this fall, which will either be really good or really bad for Wright’s psyche.
37. RB Stafon Johnson, Emmanuel Moody, Kenny Ashley or Stanley Havili, USC – The early departures of Reggie Bush and LenDale White and season-ending knee injury of Hershel Dennis mean one of the Trojans’ talented quartet of incoming freshmen could immediately be a new star if something happens to Chauncey Washington.
36. QB Erik Ainge, Tennessee – Yes, Ainge was miserable throughout his sophomore year, but the skills that made him an instant star in 2004 are still there, and so is new offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. If Ainge returns to his freshman form and ignites the Vol offense, he’ll be up for more than just Comeback Player of the Year honors.
35. QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU – Russell was making strides in 2005 before an injury shelved him for the Peach Bowl massacre of Miami. He’s still not 100%, which has fueled debate on who’ll be behind center when UL-Lafayette visits Sept. 2. It should be Russell, however, don’t be shocked if Les Miles finds ways to weave in Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux to maximize his roster.
34. WR Steve Breaston, Michigan – Braylon Edwards and Jason Avant have graduated. It’s time for Breaston to become Chad Henne’s go-to receiver. He’s already one of the game’s most dynamic return men, but must also become a 60-catch guy to have a chance to contend in this deep field.
33. RB Yvenson Bernard, Oregon State – Bernard was one of last year’s biggest surprises, rushing for 1,321 yards and catching 37 passes in his first season of relevant action. His entire line returns, but a repeat of 2005 requires QB Matt Moore to give defenses a reason not to load the line to stop the run.
32. QB Brandon Cox, Auburn – After a rocky opener versus Georgia Tech, Cox settled down and became exactly what the Tigers needed—a steady hand that wouldn’t make costly mistakes. Now, he’s a year older and ready to become more than just an error-free quarterback on an Auburn team that should be pre-season Top 10.
31. RB Chauncey Washington, USC – He got his grades up and now finally, finally, he can get his career going. The star tailback of USC should be in the top ten, but there's a whole slew of next-level caliber freshmen coming in to take away time.
30. RB James Davis, Clemson – Davis is well positioned to be one of this year’s biggest Heisman surprises. He’s coming off a terrific true freshman year and figures to be the offensive focal point of a Clemson team that returns all five starters on the offensive line and could contend for the ACC title.
29. RB Albert Young, Iowa – Young’s long-awaited breakthrough season occurred in 2005 as he finally stayed healthy and gave the Hawks their best ground threat in years. He was 17th nationally in rushing, helping to form a balanced duet with veteran QB Drew Tate.
28. RB Lorenzo Booker, Florida State – If the offensive line can get its act together, Booker could be in store for a monster senior season. His talent has never been questioned, but his three-year production has lagged well behind his expectations. With even a hint of daylight, that changes in 2006.
27. QB Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma – Ever since Bob Stoops left Gainesville for Norman, OU quarterbacks basked in the spotlight. On potential and raw physical skills, Bomar dwarfs every Sooner quarterback since Troy Aikman had a cup of joe at the school, which is why he’s expected to blossom after last year’s growing pains.
26. RB Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern – Sutton wasn’t even supposed to start last season, but wound up filling in for injured Terrell Jordan and becoming a revelation for the ‘Cat offense. He ran for 1,474 yards, caught 44 passes and scored 18 times in one of the most statistically impressive years ever for a freshman back.
25. QB Drew Weatherford, Florida State – It’s taken a few years, but Florida State finally has a quarterback they can build around for the next couple of seasons. Weatherford built breathing room between himself and Xavier Lee in 2005, and then steadily improved throughout his freshman year. At the top of his to-do list is to dramatically reduce last year’s 18 interceptions.
24. QB Zac Taylor, Nebraska – The light went on for Taylor and the rest of the Husker offense late last season, portending really big things in 2006. In just over a year, he’s come a long way in the West Coast offense, and Nebraska now has the supporting cast at the skill positions to catapult him into national prominence.
23. RB Gary Russell, Minnesota – Russell just completed a class at Inver Hills Community College in step one of getting back on the Gopher football team. Step two will be summer classes before he can even reapply at Minnesota. If he clears academic hurdles, Russell will be Glen Mason’s feature back one year after chugging for 1,130 yards and 18 touchdowns as a backup.
22. RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas – McFadden came of age very quickly as a true freshman, needing just 176 carries to become only the seventh Hog in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He’s got an ideal blend of power and speed, which might propel him to the top of the rushing ranks in 2006.
21. WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC – Voters looking to champion a receiver or a Trojan should pay closer attention to Jarrett, USC’s biggest star now that Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White have departed. He’s coming off a 91-catch, 16-touchdown sophomore year, and has quickly made Trojan fans forget Mike Williams.
20. LB Paul Posluszny, Penn State – Every season has at least one defensive player that generates a grassroots Heisman buzz. Posluszny will be that player in 2006. He’s arguably the best defender in college football, and those who doubt he steal some votes need only look at last year’s final tally, which included two defensive players in the Top 10.
19. QB Drew Tate, Iowa – Tate has been a very good quarterback the last two years for the Hawkeyes, but in order to be in the long haul hunt, he’ll need to be a little more prolific statistically while leading Iowa to a fifth straight January bowl game. He can also use a few reliable hands now that Clinton Solomon and Ed Hinkel have graduated.
18. RB Jamaal Charles, Texas – Vince Young has left Austin, but the ‘Horns are hardly void of flashy talent Heisman contenders. Charles is a burner, who led Texas backs in rushing as a freshman in 2005, despite suffering a nagging ankle injury in October. His biggest roadblocks will be durability and a backfield that’s as deep as any in America.
17. QB Chad Henne, Michigan – Henne’s got a chance to become the Wolverines’ all-time leading passer after just three seasons in Ann Arbor. And now as the undisputed leader of a Michigan team looking to rebound from its worst season since 1984, he’s going to get more media attention than ever before.
16. RB Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois – Get ready for a groundswell of support for Wolfe, particularly if he perforates a revamped Ohio State D in the opener. He’s a 300-yard game waiting to happen, and with an early schedule that includes Ohio, Buffalo, Indiana State and Ball State, he could be over 1,000 yards before the end of September.
15. RB Michael Hart, Michigan – Hart’s value to the Wolverines was never more evident than last year, when he missed substantial parts of the season and the offense sputtered in his absence. Chad Henne may have more pro potential, but Hart is the sparkplug, and with 12 games to prove it, he’s capable of becoming the first Michigan back in 66 years to win the award.
14. RB Marshawn Lynch, Cal – After Adrian Peterson, Lynch is squarely in the team photo for next best back in America. He can zoom past or through tacklers, and last December’s 194-yard, three-touchdown demolition of BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl was a prelude of things to come in his junior season.
13. RB Kenny Irons, Auburn – An expat, who began his college career at South Carolina, Irons was the SEC’s newcomer of the year in 2005, succeeding Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown better than anyone could have expected. In running for more than 100 yards in the Tigers’ final six league games, he allowed QB Brandon Cox to mature at a manageable pace.
12. QB Drew Stanton, Michigan State – Winning the Heisman is a two-part recipe that requires the right combination of big numbers and big wins. And therein lies the rub for Stanton. He’s got a proven, two-year track record of gaudy stats, but unless he can engineer a career-first upset Michigan or Ohio State and get the Spartans back to the post-season, the Top 10 is off limits.
11. QB John David Booty, USC – If Ashton Youboty was the Trojan quarterback, he might warrant an honorable mention somewhere on the list. Such is life these days at USC, where the supporting cast, media crush and league titles are practically built in to a quarterback’s candidacy. Booty’s a former prep All-American with four springs under his belt and a bulging disc that required surgery at the end of March.