Braxton Miller Already Favorite for 2013 Heisman?
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Could Braxton Miller already be the favorite to win college football’s most coveted individual award next season?
Even with “Johnny Football” coming back for potentially three more years of SEC football at Texas A&M?
Oddsmakers certainly seem to think so.
Photo by Jim Davidson
So does Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit,’ a Heisman Trophy voter who coordinates the Heismanpundit Heisman Straw Poll for CBSSports.com. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, Heisman Pundit has tabbed Miller as the front-runner for next year’s stiff arm trophy.
“He plays for a traditional power coming off an undefeated season and he should explode for big numbers in his second year in Urban Meyer’s offense.”
At 5-to-1 odds, Miller is also considered a co-favorite to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy by The Greek sportsbook, the first of the Las Vegas oddsmakers to release 2013 Heisman Trophy odds.
Miller is a co-favorite with Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who won the award as a redshirt freshman this season. Manziel threw for 3,400 yards and ran for nearly 1,200 more while knocking off a seemingly unbeatable Alabama team in Tuscaloosa during the regular season.
He has a chance to join former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin as the only two-time winners of the award in college football history, but Heisman Pundit doesn’t even list Manziel as a legitimate candidate for next year’s award.
“The smart money says there will never be another two-time Heisman winner,” Huston wrote on his blog for CBSSports.com.
“In today's America, success makes you a target. The sooner you rise to the top, the sooner they try to tear you down. How soon before the anti-Johnny Football backlash begins?”
Manziel is hardly the first player to attempt what only Griffin accomplished back in 1974 and ’75. He may be the first freshman to win the award, but the list of players who had a chance to win multiple Heisman Trophies is both long and distinguished.
It starts with Urban Meyer’s former quarterback, Tim Tebow, who won the award as a sophomore in 2007. Most people assumed he would be the one to finally match Griffin’s legendary status as the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in college football history.
Others who tried and failed include Doak Walker, Roger Staubach, Billy Sims, Ty Detmer, Jason White and Matt Leinart.
It seems like a distant memory – or even a crazy dream – now, but Leinart seemed like a lock to win the award as a senior in 2005 after posting back-to-back seasons with over 3,000 yards passing and 30+ touchdowns.
He threw for over 3,800 yards and 28 touchdowns in ’05, while leading the Trojans to an undefeated 12-0 regular season. He likely would have had 40+ touchdown passes if not for the fact USC was loaded in the backfield with both Reggie Bush and Lendale White, who combined for 44 scores that season.
The Heisman went to Bush that year instead of his quarterback.
“In 2012, Manziel put up 4,600 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns while leading Texas A&M to its best record since 1998,” Huston writes. “A sophomore year that falls shy of those numbers, both individually and at the team level, will be seen as a failure.
“The mainstream media won't be able to help itself. It will tout Manziel as next fall's Heisman front-runner. When fans complain about Manziel being foisted upon them, they'll do an about face. That's how it always happens.”
Assuming he’s right, and Huston generally is, that opens the door for candidates like Miller and USC wideout Marqise Lee – possibly the best individual talent in college football this season.
The Greek sportsbook lists Lee behind the two frontrunners – Miller and Manziel – at 8-to-1 odds, the same as Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and Oregon playmaker De’Anthony Thomas.
Only a sophomore in 2012, Thomas racked up nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards for the Ducks this season, but Heisman Pundit is much higher on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota for next year’s Heisman.
“The best freshman quarterback this side of College Station should once again thrive in the Quack Attack. With the Ducks loaded for another title run, he should figure prominently in the Heisman discussion.”
The top defensive player next year will undoubtedly be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but Heisman Pundit doesn’t like the odds for a defensive player one year after Manti Te’o finished second in the voting.
Alabama could have three candidates for the Heisman Trophy next year if running back Eddie Lacy returns for his senior season. Quarterback A.J. McCarron has already announced he’s coming back and T.J. Yeldon was one of the most exciting young players in the country this year.
Former OSU target Tajh Boyd is another name at the top of the list for next year’s Heisman, along with Clemson teammate Sammy Watkins, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and Oklahoma’s Blake Bell – or the “Belldozer” as he is better known to his fans.
None of them, however, are coming off an undefeated season in 2012. They also won’t have the benefit of being in their second year in Urban Meyer’s offense.
It was year two at Bowling Green when Josh Harris posted 41 touchdowns for the 9-3 Falcons. In Meyer’s second year at Utah, Alex Smith passed for 32 touchdowns (with 4 picks) and racked up over 600 yards on the ground for the undefeated Utes.
And then there’s Tebow, who passed for 30 touchdowns and ran for 23 more in Meyer’s high-powered offense at Florida on his way to the Heisman Trophy in 2007, Meyer’s second year in Gainesville.
Whether Meyer likes it or not, The Watch is officially on.
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