Burnt Orange Beat's Heisman Hopefuls

Every preseason magazine and website in the country have last year's top three finishers all returning to New York as the primary contenders for this year's award. Burnt Orange Beat takes a look at what each needs to do to win the Heisman, who can come from back in the pack, and who are the pretenders for this year's award.

The 2009 Heisman Award marks just the second time in the history of the award (it has been awarded since 1935) that the top three finishers all return to college for another season. It is the first time since 1946 that it has occurred when the 1945 finalists -- Army's Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Oklahoma A&M's Bob Fenimore -- all returned.

All three finishers return again and they are everyone's leading candidates to win it. If history were to repeat itself, McCoy, 2008's runner-up, is in good shape like Army's Glenn Davis, who returned to win it in 1946. Fenimore struggled with injuries in 1946 and did not make a return trip to New York. The 1945 winner, Doc Blanchard, finished a distant fourth.

Heisman Contenders:

Texas QB Colt McCoy
Florida QB Tim Tebow
Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford

McCoy will win it if… the Texas Longhorns go undefeated before the Award is presented. McCoy will earn the benefit of the doubt due to last year's BCS Championship Game snub and the fact that he is the only one of the top candidates not to already have the hardware.

Tebow will win it if…If he returns to the monster numbers he put up as a sophomore for a top ranked Gators team that returns to the national title game or McCoy and/or the Longhorns falter and the Gators are in the BCS Championship Game.

Bradford will win it if…Bradford and the Sooners beat the Longhorns, are in the BCS Championship Game, and Florida, Ohio State, or Ole Miss is not their opponent. Winning back to back is tough, and all of the cards have to fall right for Bradford. Bradford will need a green offensive line to mature in short order.

Best bet to be invited to New York:

Ohio State QB Tyrelle Pryor
California RB Jahvid Best
Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead

Pryor and Snead hold the enviable position of being on Top 10 preseason teams that have a shot to contend without the target on their backs for the full season. Since 2000, quarterbacks who are in the National Championship Game have won every Heisman except for 2002 (Carson Palmer was in BCS game) and 2005 (the two quarterbacks in the NCG finished second and third) and 2007 (Tim Tebow was in NYD bowl). If Ole Miss or Ohio State manages to get to the big game, Snead and Pryor are well positioned.


Illinois QB Juice Williams
Alabama WR Julio Jones
Oklahoma State WR/PR Dez Bryant
West Virginia RB Noel Devine
USC RB Joe McKnight
Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer
Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter

Big seasons with outrageous numbers give all of these darkhorses a chance. It would all have to fall in place including an implosion by the big three contenders. Of the darkhorses, Dez Bryant has the big games on the schedule and the dual threat as a receiver and in the return game to get in the chase. Big games against Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma leading to the dream season would give Bryant the chance to pull the upset.


Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
Penn State RB Evan Royster
Penn State QB Daryll Clark
Clemson RB CJ Spiller
Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Tennessee DB Eric Berry

Bragg's picks:

1. Colt McCoy
2. Dez Bryant
3. Tim Tebow
4. Tyrelle Pryor
5. Julio Jones

Hamilton's picks:

1. Colt McCoy
2. Tim Tebow
3. Dez Bryant
4. Sam Bradford
5. Kendall Hunter

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