Like DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, with each year that goes by what Archie Griffin did in 1974-75 becomes a more impressive accomplishment. The Ohio State All-American remains the only player in history to win two Heisman Trophies.
There have been a numerous opportunities for repeat Heisman winners over the past 35 years:
**–If Herschel Walker had returned to Georgia for his senior season in 1983, you have to believe he would have won another Heisman.
**–Ditto for Barry Sanders, who won it in 1988 and turned pro early.
**–Oklahoma quarterback Jason White won it as a junior in 2003 but finished behind USC quarterback Matt Leinart and OU running back Adrian Peterson in 2004.
**–Leinart won it in 2004 as a junior when the Trojans won the BCS championship but in 2005 his teammate, Reggie Bush, took home the hardware. Then Bush passed up his senior year and turned pro.
**–We had back-to-back sophomores win in 2007 (Florida’s Tim Tebow) and 2008 (Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford) but neither could repeat. Alabama RB Mark Ingram became the third straight sophomore to win in 2009.
The point is that it’s hard to win back-to-back Heismans. Too many things have to fall into place. So in that vein I’m going to present my top five picks to win the 2010 Heisman Trophy:
1. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: No player is more valuable to his team than Mallett is to Arkansas. If he does something special at Georgia on Sept. 18 and against Alabama in Fayetteville on Sept. 25 he could be in the hunt for the rest of the season. He should beat last season’s numbers (3,624, 30 TD) in his second year in Bobby Petrino’s system.
2. Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State: He gave us a glimpse of what he could be in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. He is good enough to lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated season and that will certainly put him in New York for the Heisman ceremonies. But let’s see what he does against an athletic Miami defense on Sept. 11. Does the coaching staff trust Pryor enough to turn him loose when it gets to be crunch time in the Big Ten race?
3. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: He’ll get a lot of votes after winning it last season. But Ingram will not get as many carries (271 in 2009) in 2010 because of his talented backup, sophomore Trent Richardson, and the fact that Alabama plans to throw it a little more because they trust QB Greg McElroy and WR Julio Jones is finally healthy.
4. Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State: Ponder was playing as well as any quarterback in the country (68.8 percent passing, No. 3 in total offense 321.8 ypg) when he got hurt in the ninth game against Clemson last season. With a veteran offensive line (142 combined career starts) in front of him, Ponder could jump into the mix if he does something special when the Seminoles go to Oklahoma on Sept. 11.
5. Ricky Dobbs, QB, Navy: Nobody from the service academies has won the award since Navy’s Roger Staubach in 1963. But this kid, a native of Douglasville, is special. Last season he rushed for 1,000 yards and passed for 1,000 yards. He scored 27 rushing touchdowns, which broke the NCAA record for quarterbacks set by Tebow. And did I mention that he played the last six games on a broken kneecap? And did I mention that he is the Vice-President of the senior class at the academy? I just want this kid to get to the Heisman ceremonies in New York, which will be just a few hours after the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia on Dec. 11.
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: He’s 26-1 as a starting quarterback and will get a chance to make a statement on Sept. 6 against Virginia Tech. In two seasons he has thrown 64 touchdown passes and only 13 interceptions (39 TD, 3 INT last season).
Case Keenum, QB, Houston: Only the second quarterback in NCAA history with two seasons of 5,000 yards passing or more (Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell is the other). Could become Division I-A’s all-time leading passer with another big season.
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU: A long shot but he was the Mountain West offensive player of the year in 2009. Very underrated player. With 29 career wins, needs just one more to break Sammy Baugh’s record for most victories in school history.
Jacory Harris, QB, Miami: If Harris can cut down on his interceptions (17 last season) and stays healthy he can be a really special player. Let’s see what he does at Ohio State on Sept. 11.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: Now that C.J. Spiller of Clemson has gone to the NFL, Devine is the most explosive player in college football. He’s small (5-8, 180) but he has incredible speed.
**–Wes Durham and I will host the return of ”The Southern Football Kickoff Show” at 11 a.m. this morning on 790 The Zone. On today’s show we have Eli Gold, the voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
**–Our final summertime version of “Talkin’ Football” will be tonight at 6 p.m. on CSS.
**–Today I will be speaking to the first meeting of the season of the Touchdown Club of Atlanta. The reception begins at 5 p.m. at the Fox Sports Grill. Come out and see us!
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