SAN JOSE -- I'm voting for the Heisman Trophy this season (for the first time) and have a working list of candidates.

Once the season starts, I'll revise the following list to reflect performance, not hype or history.

My preseason top five:

  • Wisconsin running back Montee Ball: Led the nation in rushing in 2011, tied Barry Sanders' single-season touchdown record, was a Heisman finalist -- we all know Ball's resume. The question is how he'll perform this fall with a new quarterback and revamped offense line.

  • USC quartrback Matt Barkley: Has the ability, the supporting cast, the name recognition and the brand-name school: USC is tied with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most Heisman winners, with seven. (And yes, I'm counting Reggie Bush.) But expectations are stratospheric for Barkley after his 39-touchdown season.

  • Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones: Must cut down on his interceptions but appears well positioned for a serious Heisman run with a favorable schedule and Oklahoma's brand. Also working to his advantage: He's not the preseason favorite.

  • Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray: The best quarterback in the SEC threw for 3,100 yards and 35 touchdowns last year, but he's not necessarily viewed as a top-tier Heisman candidate. If Georgia has a big year -- certainly possible given that LSU, Alabama and Arkansas are not on the schedule -- Murray should be in the thick of the race.

  • Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson: Had some Heisman support early last year then tailed off. Arguably the most exciting player in the nation, he'll have plenty of chances on the big stage, starting with the season opener against Alabama.



    Advertisement