Darkhorse Heisman picks?


Miami QB Jacory Harris, left, and FSU quarterback Christian Ponder might have a shot at the Heisman. (AP photos)

Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 11:25 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 11:25 a.m.

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A year ago it seemed like a lock — one of the three quarterbacks who finished in the top three of the 2008 Heisman race would win the award in 2009. But then Sam Bradford was injured (twice), Colt McCoy didn't put up big numbers and Tim Tebow lost to Alabama.

As a result, the Heisman went to Mark Ingram of the Tide. Deserving? Yes. I didn't vote Ingram first for several reasons, but I had no problem with him winning the award.

He's back for another year and is the favorite. And there are some others considered to have a real chance, like Washington's Jake Locker and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor.

Will it be a favorite or someone who comes out of nowhere like Ingram? That's the question that is difficult to answer in the preseason because the Heisman has such a flawed voting system with too many unqualified people voting. At least that's my take.

Forget the favorites. Here are my five darkhorse candidates:

1. Jacory Harris: The key for Harris is that Miami can't be a good team. It has to be a great one. Voters won't select a guy on an 8-4 team. Tim Tebow won it for a 9-3 team but his numbers were historic. The voters tend to select the best skill-position player on one of the top five or six teams. If Miami makes it to the ACC title game, he'll have a shot.

2. Christian Ponder: Most people believe he's going to have a monster season under Jimbo Fisher, but it's the same deal. FSU has to be a contender for Ponder to get real consideration.

3. Kellen Moore: If he goes out and lights it up against Virginia Tech in the opener, it will push him into the top three. The trouble is that we will forget about him because of Boise's schedule. He'll have to put up some incredible numbers and Boise will have to go unbeaten.

4. John Brantley: Look, if he's as good as we think he's going to be and Florida goes to Atlanta, he'll have a shot. But it could come down again to the winner of that game if Ingram and Alabama are on the other side of the field.

5. Matt Barkley: It's difficult to imagine a Southern Cal quarterback being a darkhorse, but he's not getting a lot of Heisman love in the preseason. Lane Kiffin made Jonathan Crompton into a serviceable quarterback. Let's see what he does with a really talented one.

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