Dudley Dawson, Hawgs Illustrated
First of all, I am very honored, humbled and proud to have been nominated and selected and now be apart of the process of selecting the nation's best football player.
For that very reason, I wanted my first vote to go to a young man that would be not only a fantastic football player, but also someone that could represent what the award is supposed to be all about in terms of character.
All of those players had fantastic seasons and are to be congratulated for leading their teams to success. It was a very tough choice in the end, but I feel confident in my decision to the young man that I ended up selecting.
Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated
First, I have always tried to scan the college football landscape for the most outstanding player. That does not mean the best quarterback on the best team, something that seems to be the criteria for most these days. I've looked hard to find a defensive player to consider. I do remember Hugh Green from Pitt coming close at one time.
Among my top candidates that I locked down on in the last few weeks, I did find a wide receiver that I thought was worthy of consideration, Alabama's Amari Cooper. I also thought Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Trevone Boykin of TCU were top candidates. These were the three that I considered the hardest in the last few hours of the time to turn in my ballot.
Defensively, I didn't see a candidate to wiggle into that group this year and that disappointed me somewhat.
Ryan Abraham, USCFootball
I have mostly quarterbacks on my personal watch list this year and most years. It is the most important position in sports, not just football, and I tend to gravitate towards quarterbacks when making my decision. Running backs who put up significant numbers against tough competition are also deserving in and I have one on my ballot this season. I tend to shy away from all receivers unless they contribute in other ways like returning kicks or even play some defense. And speaking of defense, I have yet to put a defensive player in the top-3 of my ballot. I do feel a defensive player can win, but only if he is someone that can find his way into the endzone returning kicks, punts, fumbles, interceptions (or all four) more than once or twice during the season. Combine that with a dominating performance at his defensive spot and to me, he can be a legitimate Heisman contender.
Dean Legge, Dawgpost
I don’t really start paying attention to my Heisman obligations until November because I have learned that you can’t win the aware until late in the season. Living in the South, one has to put blinders on to miss SEC stars. They play in the best league in the country and often are the best overall players. But it is hard to ignore Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. Gordon’s super-human performance this year against Nebraska was eye opening. But as we saw in the Big Ten Championship Game, running backs often can’t control their team’s fate. Mariota, with the exemption of the loss to Arizona, has been all that you look for in a candidate. Lest we forget that his squeaky clean image will sell to many voters - including me - after voting for scandal-ridden players like Reggie Bush, Cam Newton and most notably Jameis Winston in the past. Others on my Heisman short list: Alabama’s Amari Cooper and TCU’s Trevone Boykin.
Chip Brown, Hornsdigest
After making notes each week about players I felt were on track for a Heisman-caliber season, I narrowed my final focus to Arizona LB Scooby Wright, Louisville S Gerod Holliman, Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins, Alabama WR Amari Cooper, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, TCU QB Trevone Boykin, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, Utah DE Nate Orchard and Washington OLB Hau'oli Kikaha.
I felt like my final pool of candidates for the three places on my Heisman ballot all had a big impact on college football in 2014 as truly special, difference-making players who contributed immensely to the success of their teammates and, ultimately, to the success of their teams.
And from what I could tell, my final pool of candidates lived up to the Heisman Trust's mission statement of recognizing "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."
Terry Hutchens, Allhoosiers
What I look for is consistency and a high level of performance against the top teams on your schedule. All the elite players can fill up the stat sheet against the cupcakes. But it's the players who can put up the big number game in and game out that I'm most interested in. In this year's Heisman class there were some good candidates who started strong and then just continued to play at a high level. I'm not partial to any particular position, I just want to see the best perform at the highest levels every game.
Pete Fiutak, College Football News
To me, the Heisman is always about who is THE signature player in a college football regular season - which is why I'll still defend voting for Manti Te'o over Johnny Manziel, since the Notre Dame linebacker was THE guy on THE No. 1 team. Yeah, after the bowls I would've voted for Mr. Football, and I wish I could take my Reggie Bush vote back and pick Vince Young, but it's an unfortunate quirk that college football picks its MVP/MOP before the biggest games are played. But we have to go by what has happened so far, and that's the regular season.
I always make a point to wait until the end of the final game on Championship Saturday to make my pick - anyone who picks before the final weekend should be stripped of a vote - and I have fun with it. This year, it was easy to pick a top three - no, my choices don't seem so mesh with the rest of the world - but sometimes it takes me forever to come up with the finalists. Last year it was easy to pick Jameis No. 1, but Tre Mason turned into an MVP-like option and Derek Carr made my final three because he was statistically head-and-shoulders more amazing than anyone else. It took me a while to come up with it, and the voting public didn't exactly agree with me. In 2005 I typed in Vince Young, then couldn't hit submit, typed in Reggie Bush, couldn't hit submit, and then went back and forth before going with Bush. This year, it wasn't nearly so difficult, but it was still fun.
Brian Dohn, National Recruiting Analyst
I start my Heisman voting process the first week of the season with a clear mind, and no names on the list. I try to stay clear of talk about Heisman favorites, and I spend the first month of the season keeping an eye on players who have big performances and relating them to their importance of their team. As the season goes on, I continue to chart both performance of player, and how it relates to their team’s success.
While the on-field product of a player is important, his importance to the team is also part of my personal criteria. If there is a player who is vastly superior to anyone else, I will vote for him even if his team does not fit into the national championship or conference title race. Winning matter, but it is not the end-all, be-all when I start clicking my picks.