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Spring's Top 10

Trojans duo, Peterson top first '05 Heisman list

Posted: Wednesday April 27, 2005 12:30PM; Updated: Thursday April 28, 2005 12:07PM
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Matt Leinart
Matt Leinart beat out a pair of Sooners -- as well as teammate Reggie Bush -- for the 2004 trophy.
2004 Heisman Voting
With first-, second- and third-place votes and total points (voting on 3-2-1 basis)
Player Univ. 1st 2nd 3rd Tot.
Matt Leinart USC 267 211 102 1325
Adrian Peterson OU 154 180 175 997
Jason White OU 171 149 146 957
Alex Smith Utah 98 112 117 635
Reggie Bush USC 118 80 83 597
Cedric Benson Texas 12 41 69 187
Jason Campbell Auburn 21 24 51 162
J.J. Arrington Cal 10 33 19 115
Aaron Rodgers Cal 8 14 15 67
Braylon Edwards Michigan 3 13 27 62

For players whose names have appeared in the top five of a Heisman vote count -- and especially for those who happen to already own a trophy -- the 2005 edition of spring football was largely a spectator sport.

Last year's frontrunners, USC's Matt Leinart and Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, spent the spring recovering from offseason surgeries while second-, third- and fourth-stringers battled for supremacy among the backups. So while we've gleaned little new information about the lead dogs, we do know this: the '05 Heisman race, save for Jason White, could look a lot like '04's. To fill the void until fall, here's an early top 10:

1. Matt Leinart, Sr., QB, USC

2004 Stats: 269-of-412 passing (65.3 percent) 3,322 yards, 33 TDs, 6 INTs

Prognosis: Leinart has one trophy in the bank, and there's no reason another can't be on the way. (Well, except that Norm Chow, the architect/guru of the offense in which Leinart flourished for the past two seasons, left for an NFL gig, and LenDale White, USC's workhorse running back, and Dominique Byrd, the top tight end, are in danger of being academically ineligible for the fall ... )

In the springtime: He was nursing his throwing elbow (after surgery), and hitting the books (quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian made Leinart break down the defenses of every NFL team, which, USC's BMOC told the Los Angeles Times, "Will make analyzing defenses [in college this season] look real easy").

2. Adrian Peterson, So., RB, Oklahoma

2004 Stats: 339 carries, 1,925 yards (148.1 ypg), 15 TDs

Prognosis: Leinart outshined Peterson in the Orange Bowl, but based on each player's regular season, Peterson should have won the trophy in '04. The question for '05 is, with OU's passing attack bound to be down post-White (three QBs are still competing for the starting job and the receivers are equally inexperienced), will AD's production drop as opposing defenses key on him? Peterson will have to use the summer to acquaint himself with the Sooners' revamped O-line -- which hasn't been stellar thus far -- and new quarterback, whoever that may be.

In the springtime: Peterson was resting after surgery on his left shoulder -- which meant running laps around Owen Field while his teammates practiced. His stats in OU's April 16 spring game were far from Heisman-like: 0 carries, 0 yards, 0 steps on the field.

3. Reggie Bush, Jr., RB, USC

2004 Stats: 179.2 all-purpose yards per game; (143 carries, 908 yards, 6 TDs; 43 catches, 509 yards, 7 TDs; 24 punt returns, 376 yards, 2 TDs; 21 kick returns, 537 yards; 1-for-1 passing, 52 yards, TD)

Prognosis: Bush is the most exciting player in the college game -- his personal highlight tape would trumps a compilation of every other player in the NCAA combined -- but he happens to share a backfield with the Heisman incumbent. If voters are still enamored with Leinart, then Bush's chances are slim; if voters feel compelled to spread the wealth among the Trojans, then Bush in '06 is a plausible scenario.

In the springtime: Amazingly, no surgery. Bush's doctor's note for missing USC's spring scrimmage said "jammed toe."

4. Vince Young, Jr., QB, Texas

2004 Stats: 167 carries, 1,079 yards, 14 TDs; 148-of-250 passing (59.2 percent), 12 TDs, 11 INTs

Prognosis: Following the Rose Bowl, the phrase "2005 Heisman candidate" was officially appended to Young's name. His performance in Pasadena is now legendary: 29 carries, 192 yards, four TDs; 16-of-28 passing, one TD as Texas won the most exciting bowl game in years, 38-37 over Michigan.

In the springtime: He played? What a concept. Young went 8-of-14 passing for 115 yards and carried seven times for 24 yards in Texas' spring game. The 'Horns found Young a backfield companion in running back Ramonce Taylor, and the receiver spots -- with the sizable Limas Sweed and Jordan Shipley -- are filling in nicely. "I'd give the receivers an A," Young told the Austin American-Statesman after UT's final scrimmage. Which is a good sign, seeing that the passing game has not been Young's strong point.

5. Omar Jacobs, Jr., QB, Bowling Green

2004 Stats: 309-of-462 passing (66.9 percent), 4,002 yards, 41 TDs, 4 INTs,

Prognosis: The man was robbed! How else to explain the lack of Heisman attention surrounding Jacobs' 41-TDs-against-just-four-INTs showing in '04? (Ed. Note: "Three losses" and "Plays in MAC" are also acceptable answers.) Jacobs is still far from a household name, but he'll begin 2005 on the radar as the top non-BCS-conference candidate. That should help.

In the springtime: Notice the "increased-participation" trend as we make our way down this list? Jacobs tore up the Falcons' spring game on April 16, completing 24 of 38 passes for 441 yards and a sextet of TDs. Nevermind that BGSU lost a trio of receivers to graduation -- freshman wideouts Corey Partridge and Luke Alexander combined for five TDs in the scrimmage. Jacobs' message to the younguns', as told to the Toledo Blade: "Just get open, and I'll find you."