VETTEL: Tebow Can Win the Heisman

No sophomore has ever won college football's top individual prize, although many in this part of the world believe Rex Grossman should have been the first to do so in 2001. However, right now Florida's second year quarterback Tim Tebow has to be viewed a legit Heisman candidate if not the outright front-runner.

Tebow has electrified the college football world with his combination of running and passing along with his remarkable toughness. The fact that he appears to have the personal qualities of Danny Wuerffel doesn't hurt, either.

What also helps Tebow get serious consideration at his young age is the fact that so many of the top early season candidates have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. Chad Henne, John David Booty, Darren McFadden, Pat White, Brian Brohm and others are either out of the picture or distinct long shots at this stage.

As a Heisman elector, I pay constant attention to which players are performing and under what circumstances so I can best utilize my ballot. With that, here are the top six candidates as I see them heading into a very important weekend of college football.

Tim Tebow, QB, Florida ----- I don't have to tell you people about his accomplishments, but this article will travel throughout the internet. Tebow has combined for 27 touchdowns, running (10) and passing (17) and has thrown just three interceptions. He has also combined for almost 2,300 yards (578, 1711) in those two categories. Saturday he will face his fifth opponent that has been nationally ranked at least half the season.

Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College ----- Ryan has solid numbers completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,184 yards. He has the same number of touchdown passes as Tebow with three more interceptions, and he is not a running threat at all. His biggest plus over the Gator QB is the fact his team is unbeaten. If he shines in a Thursday night win over Virginia Tech he will top most lists.

Dennis Dixon, QB, Oregon ----- Dixon is a combo quarterback like Tebow, but with a dramatically different style. His numbers trail Tebow in most cases (1,728 yards/16 TD passing, 416 yards/7 TD rushing), but he has a big opportunity this weekend when the Ducks host Southern Cal.

Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers ----- This is an acknowledgment that it helps to be the only candidate in one media heavy part of the country. Rice was impressive in the win over second-ranked USF and has 999 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. He needs more big games, but he has to be watched.

Michael Hart, RB, Michigan ----- I wrote him off weeks ago, but Hart has almost single handedly salvaged Michigan's season and has the Wolverines in the running for the Big Ten title. His 1,078 yards and 12 touchdowns are not overwhelming, but if Michigan runs the table and Hart stars against Ohio State it would impressive a lot of voters.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri ----- One of the surprise teams in the country is Missouri and the junior quarterback is the biggest reason why. Daniel has passed for 2,283 yards and 17 touchdowns while running for another 198 and 3 scores. Equally impressive, his offense has scored at least 31 points in each game this season. With only one ranked team left on the schedule (Kansas) he should pile up great numbers the final five games of the regular season.

There are other guys who can challenge for the award, particularly with great performances in the next week or two when many Heisman electors will be working up their lists. That group of players includes McFadden, White (W.Va.), Colt Brennan (Hawaii), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Andre Woodson. Still, I'm betting one of my six is walking away with the trophy when all is said and done.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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