Ivan Maisel's preseason Heisman Watch
Sports Illustrated senior writer Ivan Maisel will track the Heisman race for CNNSI.com all season long. Here, he offers his preseason Top 10 candidates.
1. Rex Grossman, QB, Florida, Jr.
It's been 20 years since a Heisman runner-up returned and won the trophy (Herschel Walker) and 10 years since one returned at all (Marshall Faulk, who finished fourth the next season). Grossman has a chance because he throws the deep ball better than anyone in college football.
2. Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami QB, Sr.
He has the quickest release in the game and the quickest brain, too. Still, winning, at times, has never looked so ungainly.
3. Chris Rix, QB, Florida State, So.
Gained 3,123 yards of total offense as raw freshman. With experience, healthy receivers and a veteran line, Rix will take the Seminoles a long way.
4. Onterrio Smith, TB, Oregon, Jr.
Tennessee transfer is fast and punishing. He'll get enough carries to solve the lack of name recognition. Last Pac-10 player to win Heisman: Marcus Allen, USC, 1981.
5. Eli Manning, QB, Ole Miss, Jr.
Dad Archie's no-campaign edict won't have nearly as big an impact on Eli's Heisman chances as the Rebels' defense. If it doesn't improve, Ole Miss won't win enough.
6. Dave Ragone, QB, Louisville, Sr.
Ragone doesn't have a chance to win unless the Cardinals upset Florida State in Louisville on Sept. 26.
7. Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall, Sr.
Leftwich's job is even tougher, because his one-chance, must-win game is on the road: at Virginia Tech on Sept. 12.
8. E.J. Henderson, LB, Maryland, Sr.
Big, mean and all but unstoppable. If he doesn't rise above the status of Token Defensive Candidate, it will be because Terps don't have enough W's.
9. Lee Suggs, TB, Virginia Tech, Sr.
Will have had 12 months to mend torn left ACL. Go-to guy in Hokies offense, but how much will he have to share the ball with sophomore Kevin Jones?
10. Jason Gesser, QB, Washington State, Sr.
Good arm, good feet and proved last year that he can win (10-2). A victory at Ohio State on Sept. 14 would get him national attention.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Ivan Maisel covers the college football beat for the magazine and is a regular contributor to CNNSI.com.