7 Headlines: Countdown to Big 12 Media Days

With this installment of the 7 Headlines series, we take a look at three players in the Big 12 that could be up for the Heisman at season's end.

Heisman Hopefuls

A handful of players from the Big 12 could be up for the Heisman in 2012


The Heisman.

One of the greatest poses in sports, one of the most coveted trophies, only second to the crystal football.

In 2011, we saw Robert Griffin III run, pass and pose for the Heisman Trophy and became the first player from Baylor to ever lift the hardware.

Following his "Heismanesque" season, the question now, is there a player in the Big 12 Conference that has the chance to bring home the Heisman.


1)   Landry Jones – QB – Senior – Oklahoma


Landry Jones opted to come back for his senior season, instead of taking the bucks and running for the NFL.

Jones is arguably among the top gunslingers to return in 2012 to the Big 12 Conference, making the Sooners a contender for the Big 12 title.

The senior has finished the past two seasons with a completion percentage above 63 percent and also threw for more than 4,000 yards – 4,718 in 2010 and 4,463 in 2011.

Probably the most impressive number of all is his interceptions. In his three years at Oklahoma, in a single season he has not thrown more than 15, which was the mark in 2011.

With the low turnover number, comes high touchdown numbers. Jones threw for 38 touchdowns in 2010 and came up just short in 2011 of the 30-touchdown mark with just 29.

In his time at Oklahoma, the Sooners have not suffered a losing season, and have had 10-win seasons in two of the three seasons with a 12-2 record in the 2010-2011 campaign.

With all of this in mind there is no question, if he turns in another 4,000 yard plus passing season with almost 30 touchdowns again, there is no doubt he will be sitting in New York with a chance to lift the Heisman Trophy.




2)   Geno Smith – QB – Senior  - West Virginia


The newcomer to the Big 12 comes in second on the list. Geno Smith has earned national attention, and a 10-3 record in 2011 helps a little too.

Smith was instrumental in making Dana Holgrosen's debut season as a head coach a memorable one.

In his three seasons in the Mountaineer uniform, Smith has gotten nothing but better.

But his best season so far came once he got a head coach that knows very well how to make an offense pass, pass and pass some more.

In 2011, Smith threw for 4,385 yards, which is almost 2,000 more yards than he passed for the season before.

The Miami native also has thrown just 14 interceptions in the last two seasons, while hitting the end zone 55 times.

Another key to Smith's success in the pocket is his throwing accuracy, finishing above 65 percent completion rate in two of his three seasons.

Truly the only area that Smith struggled is his scrambling ability, he went backwards in 2011 gaining no yards and losing 33 on 56 attempts.

The previous season he rushed for 217 on 106 attempts.

So the change of head coaches is obvious, because of the numbers. Passing yards raised substantially and his rushing yards cut way down.

But despite that fact, Smith is going to be electric in 2012, and it will be interesting if he can go for more than 4,000 yards for the second straight season and do it against the beasts of the Big 12.

If Smith repeats and improves on his passing numbers and becomes a little better at the running game, he could land a reserved chair in New York.




3)   Joseph Randle – RB – Junior – Oklahoma State


Finally on the list is a running back; all the love couldn't just go to the gunslingers.

In 2010 and 2011, Joseph Randle played in 13 games, but the difference between his freshman and sophomore season is mind-boggling.

His freshman campaign ended with him finding the end zone only twice and rushing for only 452 yards.

2011 was like he broke, exploded out of his shell.

Randle rushed for 1,216 yards, which is the 16th-best single season mark, on 208 attempts and went for six 24 times for the Cowboys.

En route to a 1,000-yard plus season he recorded 100-yard performances six times in the season.

If there is a running back in the country that will give Randle a run for a run for his money of course is Montee Ball at Wisconsin. Ball rushed for 1,923 yards for 33 touchdowns in 2011 and was a Heisman finalist.

But there is a chance Randle, who is also up for the Doak Walker Award , could make a bigger splash in 2012 with the way Oklahoma State will be rebuilding  at the quarterback position.

Randle will be key to the Cowboys success this season and if he can up the numbers might be in a runoff with Ball all the way to the Big Apple.


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