Here we are in Week 6 of the college football season and the Heisman race is starting to heat up, with several candidates still in the hunt. The 77th annual presentation will take place on Dec. 10, 2011 at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square in New York City on ESPN.
What made me take a close look at the race was the injury to the nation’s leading rusher, Oregon’s LaMichael James last night against California. He rushed for his third straight 200-yard plus game which is a school record, and he is currently the fifth player in FBS to reach that milestone.
With the injury to his arm or elbow, James will be sidelined for a few weeks if not longer, which will affect his overall chances of winning the Heisman. So, let’s take a look at my top five candidates other than James as of Oct. 7
Andrew Luck QB Stanford Junior
Russell Wilson QB Wisconsin Senior
Trent Richardson RB Alabama Junior
Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU Sophomore
Kellen Moore QB Boise State Senior
LaMichael James RB Oregon Junior
Stanford’s Andrew Luck is the front-runner as of Week 5 and should be with his team undefeated and owning the longest winning streak in the NCAA dating back to the 2010 season. Luck has led his team in many ways, through the air, on the ground and also as a receiver. But Wisconsin has arguably the best athlete at the quarterback position in first-year player Russell Wilson. A former baseball player, Wilson walked into Camp Randall and the Badgers haven’t missed a beat. In fact, they added another dimension with Wilson at the helm because of his pass first and run second skill set.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson is on pace for 1,800 yards and 20 touchdowns, which will put him in the mix. Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has only played in 18 games for the Tigers as a sophomore. This exciting Blue player (play-maker and difference-maker) has the skill set to develop into one of the best defenders in the country this year (36 total tackles, 1.5 sacks with three forced fumbles, two for touchdowns and one interception).
The last player that rounds out my top five is Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. This southpaw has played as consistently at the position as any quarterback in the country, with a lot of production the last few years. The knock on Moore and his Broncos is the level of competition. Despite having one or two big games against top colleges, the overall lack of schedule strength hurts his overall ranking for the Heisman for me. The one thing he has going for him is the BCS ranking started them high, and if they don’t lose along the way they will be in the hunt once again. That will help his case for the most prestigious athletic trophy handed out to the best football player in the country every year.