Historic QB trio favored early, but this is anyone's Heisman race
Colt McCoy edges out Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford as the early favorite
Jonathan Dwyer may be the running back best suited to challenge the QBs
It wasn't long ago defender Charles Woodson won -- Eric Berry could, too
The Heisman turns 75 this year, and what a birthday present it's about to get. For the first time in history, two players -- Tim Tebow (2007 winner) and Sam Bradford (2008) -- stand a chance to win a second Heisman. And, for the first time since 1946, the top three vote getters from the previous season -- Bradford, Tebow and 2008 runner-up Colt McCoy -- return. Still, it would be false to assume one of that trio will surely win the 2009 trophy. Here are the top 10 contenders prior to Week 1. Check in each Monday for an updated look at the race.
1. QB Colt McCoy, Sr., Texas
2008 stats: 332 of 433, 3,859 yards, 34 TDs, 8 INTs; 136 rushes, 561 yards, 11 TDs; 2 punts, 69 yards
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch begins 2009 where it ended 2008 -- with McCoy on top. In reality, any of the top three quarterbacks could have landed here, but this passing and running Longhorn will be saddled with the Menez curse. (No player who has appeared No. 1 in the first Watch of the season has gone on to win the Heisman. Granted, that only goes back to 2005.) McCoy, however, has enough working in his favor to reverse the curse. Virtually all of his receiving weapons and offensive linemen return, the Longhorns are a contending team and McCoy will once again be the catalyst for a high-powered offense.
Up next: Sept. 5 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
2. QB Tim Tebow, Sr., Florida
2008 stats: 192 of 298, 2,746 yards, 30 TDs, 4 INTs; 176 rushes, 673 yards, 12 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: Tebow may go down as the most decorated player in college football history, thanks largely to his throwback running style and in-your-face leadership. Now he's working with new quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler to tighten up his throwing motion, which, if successful, would make him difficult to beat in this race. But one question lingers: With a nasty defense leading the charge and the coaching staff trying to keep Tebow healthy, will he run the ball as much as he has the past two seasons? In 2005 the Texas coaching staff told Vince Young, "Don't run. Throw the ball away. Don't scramble," and that may have cost him the Heisman. Keep an eye on whether Tebow (and for that matter, McCoy) keeps the wheels in the garage.
Up next: Sept. 5 vs. Charleston Southern
3. QB Sam Bradford, Jr., Oklahoma
2008 stats: 328 of 483, 4,720 yards, 50 TDs, 8 INTs; 42 rushes, 47 yards, 5 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: You know you've got competition when as the reigning Heisman winner you begin the following season No. 3 on The Watch. Bradford's last two losses came against McCoy and Tebow. That said, Bradford's snap release and accuracy will translate well at the next level, and he's certain to put up stats in the Sooners' up-tempo spread offense. (And Heisman voters love their stats.) Still, with Oklahoma having to replace four starters on the offensive line, Bradford may face more pressure this season, something he rarely had to deal with during his 50 TD campaign last season.
Up next: Sept. 5 vs. No. 20 BYU in Arlington, Texas
4. RB Jonathan Dwyer, Jr., Georgia Tech
2008 stats: 200 rushes, 1,395 yards, 12 TDs; 8 receptions, 209 yards, 1 TD; 8 kickoff returns, 171 yards
Heisman-o-meter: The most common question The Watch has received in the offseason has been: "Can anyone other than Bradford, McCoy or Tebow win the Heisman?" The answer is a resounding yes. While the top three have built up much credibility with voters, this will not be a three-man race, and Dwyer could be the most likely challenger. At 6-feet, 235 pounds and with excellent speed, he's essentially a Sunday back playing on Saturdays. Now, with one more year in coach Paul Johnson's option offense under his belt, Dwyer should be even more productive in 2009.
Up next: Sept. 5 vs. Jacksonville State
5. RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Soph., Oregon State
2008 stats: 259 rushes, 1,253 yards, 11 TDs; 29 receptions, 247 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: If you can't stay up to catch those late-night Pac-10 games, do yourself a favor and at least record The Quizz Show. This 5-7, 191-pound mighty mite produces must-see TV, with his ankle-breaking direction changes and surprising pile-pushing power. The Pac-10 may be loaded with running backs (namely Cal's Jahvid Best, Oregon's LeGarrette Blount, Stanford's Toby Gerhart and the USC triplets), but Rodgers returns as reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year after becoming the first freshman to earn the honor. As long as his surgically repaired left shoulder, which kept him out of the final two-plus games in '08, holds up, he'll force voters to take notice.
Up next: Sept. 5 vs. Portland State
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