Second-Year Player Could
Earn Coveted Honor Again
One Great Season
Because of the new rule that only a sophomore can win the Heisman Trophy, there are some angry upperclassmen heading into the 2010 college football season.
Obviously that's not a rule, but the last three winners — Tim Tebow in 2007, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Mark Ingram in 2009 — all were second-year players, and there's no reason to think it can't happen again this year.
Certainly Ingram has a chance — maybe two — to repeat the feat, but if he falls short like Tebow and Bradford did, here are a few sophomores who should definitely stay in the mix as long as their health cooperates in 2010:
Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh — I saw Lewis play twice in person and a few other times on television and he was my favorite of the three star freshmen backs who shattered records last year. Questions about his durability actually surprise me; he just doesn't go down on initial contact. Considering his Panthers are the preseason pick to win the Big East, this stat machine will have no shortage of opportunities to impress national television audiences.
MORE: 2010 OGS Preseason Preview
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech — Williams was thrust into the starting role when Darren Evans, a freshman sensation the previous season, blew out a knee in fall camp. Hokies coaches knew they had a stout defense on their hands once again, so they were probably just hoping for mere competence from Williams. What did they get? Ten 100-yard games; 1,655 yards; and 22 touchdowns.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon — Similar to Williams' situation, James was poised to be the No. 2 back behind an established starter until LaGarrette Blount melted down after Oregon's season-opening loss at Boise State last year. James responded with an electrifying rookie season full of highlight-reel runs, rushing for 1,546 yards and helping the Ducks to the PAC 10 championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. For those who call themselves informed Heisman voters, James will be must-see TV late on Saturday nights this fall.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford — Gone from Stanford is Toby Gerhart, so the Cardinal offense will be more reliant on Luck this year. And all observers seem to think he's ready for the challenge. He's big and strong and makes good decisions for a young player. He threw nearly 300 passes last year, and only four interceptions. Luck engineered late-season wins over USC, Oregon and Notre Dame, and his coach, Jim Harbaugh — who knows a little something about what an NFL-ready quarterback looks like — was quoted this preseason saying, "He's the best I've been around." Not a bad reference for the ole resume.