Photo credit Rob Christy, US Presswire
by Lisa Horne
Since figure skating is headlining the Sunday afternoon television schedule today, why not throw out a way-too-early Heisman watch list? We could use a little college football right now, couldn't we?
Cardale Jones, quarterback, Ohio State
Jones may have to fight JT Barrett for the starting job which means Barrett is also in the running if he gets the nod. Jones had a tremendous late season when Braxton Miller and Barrett went out with injuries. But another Buckeye may steal some of his thunder.
Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Ohio State
Elliott bulldozed his way through college football fans' hearts when he rushed for three consecutive 200-plus yard games in the 2014 postseason. His punishing runs took the pressure off of the Buckeyes' inexperienced quarterbacks. Elliott is recovering from wrist surgery and will miss the "contact portion of spring drills," according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Clemson
If Clemson's offense can recapture its frantic energy then Watson should shine. But coordinator Chad Morris is now SMU's head coach and his magic will be missed. This is a wait-and-see season for Watson as he recovers from knee surgery. So far, he's on schedule with his recovery.
Royce Freeman, running back, Oregon
With Heisman winner Marcus Mariota off to the NFL, the spotlight on Freeman is now a lot bigger. The Ducks' line will have to repair some holes if they want to continue their rushing offense and quest for a national championship. But if the defensive line doesn't spend more time in the weight room, it may not matter.
Samaje Perine, running back, Oklahoma
Last year against Kansas, Perine rushed for 427 yards on 30 carries and set a new single-game rushing record. Oklahoma may want to go back to its traditional power running game with Perine in the backfield.
Cody Kessler, quarterback, USC
Kessler was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country last year but avoided the Heisman hype. This year he will be surrounded by hype as USC plays without scholarship restrictions for the first time in three years. Expectations are sky high.
Nick Chubb, running back, Georgia
Chubb will have a lot of opportunities to impress while the Bulldogs sort out their quarterback depth chart. With a veteran line returning, my Magic 8 ball says Georgia will be running the ball a lot.
Connor Cook, quarterback, Michigan State
It is going to be tough to challenge the Buckeye quarterbacks for supremacy in the Big Ten, but Cook has a good shot if his line can protect him.
Trevone Boykin, quarterback, TCU
The Horned Frogs may not only field a national championship team but a Heisman winner as well. This is the year for TCU if everyone stays healthy.
Malik Zaire, quarterback, Notre Dame
Zaire is probably the fans' favorite but Everett Golson is still in the mix. The Fighting Irish return almost everyone so who will start under center is critical for this potential title contender.
There are plenty of other players who should contend. Brad Kaaya, Scooby Wright III, Anu Solomon, Derrick Henry, River Cracraft, Jared Goff, James Conner, Juju Smith and Paul Perkins are on my radar.
Once spring practices are in the books, I will update this list with new additions or revisions.