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Looking ahead

Smith has Heisman locked up, but what about 2007?

Posted: Monday November 27, 2006 2:46PM; Updated: Saturday December 2, 2006 6:55PM
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What other awards will Troy Smith haul in beside the Heisman?
What other awards will Troy Smith haul in beside the Heisman?
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It's my job to keep you reading even if the following statement -- Troy Smith leads Heisman race -- isn't exactly news. That being said, let's take an absurdly early glance at whom we may be talking about next year.

Running backs immediately jump out, led by Arkansas' Darren McFadden. Michigan's Mike Hart, West Virginia's Steve Slaton, Cal's Marshawn Lynch, Wisconsin's P.J. Hill and Clemson's James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

The quarterback situation is less clear. Louisville's Brian Brohm would be the leading candidate if he returns for his senior season, but that's a big if. Hawaii's Colt Brennan has put up lottery-like numbers, but he hasn't beaten anyone. West Virginia's Pat White, if he improves his passing ability, may just be the best of the bunch.

And the best longshot candidate may be Cal's all-purpose, score-from-anywhere weapon, DeSean Jackson.

Now, back to this year's race. In the penultimate column, the candidates have been narrowed from eight to five. Next week, we'll reveal the top three.

1. Troy Smith, Ohio State, QB, Sr.

Last week: Idle
Season: 199-of-297 passing, 2,507 yards, 30 TDs, 5 INTs; 62 rushes, 233 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: He's already locked down the No. 1 spot on this list no matter what happens on Saturday, but the Heisman isn't the only award that could be coming Smith's way. He's already a finalist for the Maxwell and could win the Walter Camp Player of the Year award as well. If he takes home all three, he would be the 19th player to complete the sweep, but the first since Ron Dayne in 1999.
Up next: Regular season complete

2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame, QB, Sr.

Last week: 22-of-45 passing, 274 yards, 3 TDs; 11 rushes, 74 yards in a 44-24 loss at No. 3 USC
Season: 274-of-432 passing, 3,278 yards, 35 TDs, 5 INTs; 79 rushes, 65 yards, 2 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: He never gave up against USC, but the effort was far from Heisman-worthy. He just wasn't as sharp against the Trojans as he had been post-Michigan, and even when he threw his third touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, there was never any doubt in the outcome of the game. Quinn backers will say that he has better numbers and means more to his team than Smith but conveniently forget that he's 0-2 in the Irish's biggest games this year.
Up next: Regular season complete

3. Darren McFadden, Arkansas, RB, Soph.

Last week: 21 rushes, 182 yards, 2 TDs; 2-of-2 passing, 33 yards; 1 reception, 7 yards in a 31-26 loss to No. 9 LSU
Season: 244 rushes, 1,485 yards, 14 TDs; 5-of-5 passing, 70 yards, 2 TDs; 9 receptions, 122 yards, 1 TD; 8 kickoff returns, 226 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: You can't blame McFadden for the Hogs' loss. He did everything he could to rally the team, including breaking an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and once again taking snaps in Arkansas' Wildcat formation. The guy is simply a do-it-all athletic freak who has excelled against the top defenses in the country. He rightfully deserves to be invited to New York.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 4 Florida in Atlanta

4. Mike Hart, Michigan, RB, Jr.

Last week: Idle
Season: 301 rushes, 1,515 yards, 14 TDs; 15 receptions, 127 yards
Heisman-o-meter: He lacks the gamebreaking ability of other running backs being considered, but his toughness and blocking ability rank at the top. And I would love to see the kind of stats he would produce if he played in an offense that had a bit more creativity in its running game, say, West Virginia's.
Up next: Regular season complete

5. Steve Slaton, West Virginia, RB, Soph.

Last week: 18 rushes, 43 yards; 2 receptions, 8 yards in a 24-19 loss against South Florida
Season: 222 rushes, 1,621 yards, 14 TDs; 22 receptions, 303 yards, 2 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: A case could be made for a number of players to be No. 5 -- Rutgers' Ray Rice, Cal's Marshawn Lynch, Hawaii's Colt Brennan -- but the choice here is Slaton, whose hiccup against South Florida (it was his worst game as a starter) should not diminish a season's worth of work. If it wasn't for his fumbling issues against Louisville three weeks ago and again against the Bulls on Saturday (he fumbled on the South Florida 2-yard line), he would be higher on this list.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 13 Rutgers