An early look at the pre-season Heisman hopefuls

The college football season is only a month away and the Heisman hype has already begun. A good campaign could launch an up-and-comer into the national spotlight, but at the end of the day winning is all that matters. Only players from successful teams have a real chance of taking home the biggest prize an individual can win in the college game. After all, one of the big reasons why Jameis Winston started to get some attention was because of the great start by Florida State in 2013.

While Winston is poised to add another Heisman to his trophy case, there will be plenty of competition standing in his way.

Here is an early look at the leading candidates for the 2014 Heisman Trophy

Bryce Petty, 6-3, 230, senior, quarterback, Baylor: after a dominant junior year, Petty is an early front-runner for the award. In 2013, he led the Bears to an 11-2 record and a trip to the BCS while completing 62 percent of his passes for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He also did some damage with his legs with 209 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Sean Mannion, 605, 207, senior, quarterback, Oregon State: like Petty, Mannion had a huge junior year to put his name at the top of the list. In 2013, Mannion led the Beavers to a 7-6 record and a bowl win over the Boise State Broncos. along the way, he completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns.

T.J. Yeldon, 6-2, 218, junior, running back, Alabama: after two straight 1,000 yard seasons on the ground, Yeldon is ready to take another step forward. In 2013, he carried the ball 207 times for 1,235 (six yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns. He was also a weapon in the passing game with 20 catches for 183 yards.

Ty Montgomery, 6-2, 215, senior, wide receiver, Stanford: after a great junior season where Montgomery scored 14 total touchdowns, he will be looking to finish his career with a bang. What better way to go out than with a the Heisman. In 2013, he caught 61 passes for 958 yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with 13 carries for 159 yards and two more scores. He was also a star in the return game with a 30.3 yard average and two touchdowns on 36 kick returns.

Taysom Hill, 6-2, 221, junior, quarterback, BYU: after he showed the ability to be one of the best duel-threat quarterbacks in the nation, Hill should have the experience to propel himself into the national limelight. In 2013, Hill completed 53.9 percent of his passes for 2,938 yards and 19 touchdowns to go along with 1,344 yards and 10 scores on the ground.

Braxton Miller, 6-2, 215, senior, quarterback, Ohio State: Miller has been on just about ever Heisman watch list since he started his sophomore year and 2014 will be no different. In ’13, he won his second straight Big 10 offensive player of the year award after he completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 171 times for 1,068 yards and 12 more scores.

Marcus Mariota, 6-4, 211, junior, quarterback, Oregon: after two wildly impressive seasons as the Ducks signal caller, Mariota is back to continue his legacy. In 2013, he completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 3,665 yards and 31 touchdowns against just four interceptions. he also added 715 yards and nine scores on the ground on just 96 carries.

Duke Johnson, 5-9, 196, junior, running back, Miami (Florida): after two solid seasons in the Hurricane back field, Johnson has the skill to lead Miami back to the top of college football. In 2013, Johnson carried the ball 145 times for 920 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in just eight games.

Taylor Kelly, 6-2, 203, senior, quarterback, Arizona State: Kelly is another one of the fantastic Pac 12 quarterbacks looking to improve on a big 2013. During that season, He completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,635 yards and 28 touchdowns to go along with 608 yards and nine scores on the ground for the 10-4 Sun Devils.

Todd Gurley, 6-1, 232, junior, running back, Georgia: after a monster year in limited action as a sophomore because of injuries, Gurley is back with the Bulldogs to show he is the top dog of the SEC. In 2013, he 989 yards and 10 touchdowns on 165 carries (six yards-per-carry). He also added 37 receptions for 441 yards and six more scores in 10 games.

Brett Hundley, 6-3, 222, junior, quarterback, UCLA: after a pair of impressive seasons under center for the Bruins, Hundley is ready to carry the Bruins to the top of the Pac 12. In 2013, Hundley completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also totaled 748 yards and 11 more scores on the ground.

Mike Davis, 5-9, 215, junior, running back, South Carolina: after he exploded onto the scene and helped the Gamecocks to an 11-2 record a year ago, Davis will look to improve on his already loft stock. In 2013, he carried the ball 203 times for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns as well as 34 receptions for 352 yards.

Jameis Winston, 6-4, 218, sophomore, quarterback, Florida State: the reigning Heisman Trophy winner didn’t get there by accident and wont give up his spot at the top of the college football world without a fight. In 2013, he completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He also added 219 yards and four scores on the ground.

Chuckie Keeton, 6-2, 200, senior, quarterback, Utah State: Keeton is looking to bounce back from a horrible knee injury midway through a very promising junior season. In 2013, Keeton completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,388 yards and 18 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He also totaled 241 yards and two scores on the ground in six games.

Jay Ajayi, 6-0, 220. junior, running back, Boise State: after a huge season, Ajayi is looking to carry the Broncos as they make their transition to a new coaching staff. In 2013, he recorded 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns on 249 carries to go along with 22 receptions for 222 yards and another score.

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