Husker Fans Will See Players in the Heisman Hunt
Among the ways to enjoy college football each year is not only to cheer on your favorite team or monitor games involving other teams, but to see which player week to week is putting themselves in the best position to win the Heisman trophy. Since it's a national award, much of that must be done by watching TV. But season ticket holders in Memorial Stadium will get their share of glimpses at Heisman candidates this season.
Athlon has released a list of top 25 Heisman candidates for 2012 as well as 10 more honorable mention. Presumably by listing out so many, they'll have captured the winner somewhere on those lists. Using that list as a starting point, we can see a number of players that Husker fans will see that could contend for the Heisman.
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is second on their list and is certainly a more impressive athlete than their top choice of USC signal caller Matt Barkley. Kind of like it used to be for Miami quarterbacks, you can often pencil in a USC quarterback for the ballot based on the strength of their overall team, even if they aren't that impressive individually (see Toretta, Gino). When Robinson comes to town in October for a prime time game, NU fans can only hope they'll be spared any "Heisman moments" on Tom Osborne Field.
Fourth on the list is Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. His statistics a year ago were certainly Heisman worthy. But he'll have difficulty tallying another 2,200+ yards from scrimmage with 39 touchdowns without Russell Wilson behind him, three all conference blockers in front of him and a new offensive coordinator for the Badgers. Ball killed Nebraska a year ago. Husker fans will want to see him stuffed and buried all night when he makes it to Lincoln.
Eighth on the list (but number one in our hearts) is NU running back Rex Burkhead. He'll need to boost his production significantly to truly contend for the Heisman. But those who've seen his heroics firsthand, can certainly imagine him putting up some Heisman-caliber highlights.
Heading a little further into longshot territory, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller makes the list at thirteen. While he won't be returning to Lincoln any time soon, fans that road trip to Columbus may see with their own eyes whether or not Miller is worthy of an invite to New York. He certainly did some damage to the Huskers a year ago.
Believe it or not an Arkansas State player makes their list at number twenty-one. 2011 Sun Belt Player of the Year Ryan Aplin is the kind of dual-threat quarterback that can give NU fits. He loses a lot of the all-conference talent he had around him a year ago and must learn a new offense, but he did account for over 300 yards of total offense a year ago with 29 touchdowns. It's unlikely that Aplin will end up in New York but his inclusion on the list (the only player outside of a major conference to be on it), tells you how impressive he can be. Maybe that ASU game will be one to remember.
Among the "best of the rest" list, we even see NU quarterback Taylor Martinez. It seems far-fetched that Martinez might win the Heisman this year, but he could certainly begin to start building a case for 2013. As we've noted before, he could be on his way to claiming a number of Husker all-time records before his time is done. With some big wins and highlights this year, he could well find himself in the mix as a senior.