Right before I sat down to write this, I clicked on collegefootballnews.com and saw that they had already done the job better than I could have done as they came out with their "Handicapping the Heisman" feature. But that won't stop me. I am going to rank my Heisman favorites now:
1. Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami - Like College Football News, I like Dorsey as the favorite. The ingredients are there -- name recognition, a national championship-caliber team that will be in the spotlight, talent surrounding him on offense -- so it's tough to not like his chances.
2. Rex Grossman, QB, Florida - Grossman is at #2 for two reasons -- he was a finalist last year and I am afraid to put any of the guys below him this high. Other than that, there is a bit of concern surrounding his situation. There's a new coach and new wide receivers... will he put up knockout numbers again? My guess is that the numbers won't be as good, but they will still be good. I'm not entirely sure I buy into this alleged WR problem at Florida; I'll believe that when I see it.
3. Casey Clausen, QB, Tennessee - I really don't know who to put at #3, but I guess I'll go with Clausen. He seems to be developing into one of the nation's best, and he'll have publicity and fine targets to throw to, particularly Kelly Washington. If Tennessee can be in the national title race all year long, he may very well be one of the top three.
4. Chris Simms, QB, Texas - Try not to groan or say I stink for putting Simms this high. I know fully well what Simms has (or maybe I should say hasn't) done in recent years. The fact remains that his situation is as good as anyone when it comes to the Heisman Trophy. He's got great receivers, a talented team that will be highly-rated, and big-time name recognition. All he (and his team) has to do is deliver. That's the problem though... they haven't been able to do that.
5. Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall - Leftwich's big problem is that he's in the MAC, and it would take a great season combined with some slipping by these other guys to win. But don't think that it can't happen. It's almost a sure thing that he'll put up great numbers, and more and more people are beginning to recognize that he may be the top overall player in the country. He's not an unknown. But still, it is a MAC team, and how many people will get to see him play could be an issue.
6. Chris Rix, QB, Florida State - Rix's situation is actually pretty good. If FSU emerges as the national title contender many people think they'll be, he should be a big reason why, and with a strong offense, he should put up big numbers. Keep an eye on him and don't be surprised at all if he's in the final five.
7. Onterrio Smith, RB, Oregon - I really like the potential for Onterrio Smith to have a big, big year. He could put up some eye-popping numbers this year and become a hot commodity at RB. He might be a longshot for the Heisman though. The name recognition isn't there yet, and Oregon still won't have too many games in the national spotlight. It would help a lot though if Oregon had a huge season.
8. Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State - A bit of a dark horse, but a player whose talent is undeniable. He should be the focal point of the MSU offense this year, and if the Spartans can have a big year and run the Big Ten, he could get some attention.
9. Anthony Davis, RB, Wisconsin - It's tough to ignore a running back who had over 1400 yards last year and has all five offensive linemen back. But Davis is still on the outside looking in. Cedric Benson of Texas might have a better shot.
10. Dave Ragone, QB, Louisville - This is my biggest sleeper pick. College Football News has a point about that Florida State game. If Louisville can somehow knock him off, he may become a hot pick. He's already rated by Mel Kiper as the #2 QB as far as NFL prospects go behind Leftwich.
Picks for some other awards:
Davey O'Brien Award (Top QB) - Byron Leftwich, Marshall. Just a guess that they will take the best overall QB with the highest production.
Doak Walker Award (Top RB) - Onterrio Smith, Oregon. I'm predicting him to have a monster year and I'll stick to it. Note to Onterrio - this may be worse than the S.I. jinx.
Biletnikoff Award (Top WR) - Charles Rogers, Michigan State. There's a lot of WR talent in America this year, but Rogers seems to be drawing the most hype.
Outland Trophy (Interior Lineman) - William Joseph, Miami (FL). Coming into the season, Joseph is regarded as the top prospect out of both the offensive and defensive linemen in America.
Lombardi Trophy (Lineman/Linebacker) - E.J. Henderson, Maryland. Henderson was a Butkus finalist last year, and I am guessing he'll be the best out of the OL, DL and LBs in America.
Butkus Award (Linebacker) - E.J. Henderson, Maryland. He has to be a big favorite to win this award.
Thorpe Award (Defensive Back) - Mike Doss, Ohio State. I wanted to save the best for last! This award is really Mike's to lose. If he has a great year, he should win it in a lock. There aren't many more places in America where you'll get more publicity than Ohio State, so he has that edge over the competition right off the bat. Coming into the season, he has to be the favorite and if he has a good year and makes some highlight-reel plays, it could be enough to win.
That's all speculation... I didn't think before last season that Eric Crouch would have won, so you never know what will happen. As I often like to say so generically, stay tuned!