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Early Look at the Top Heisman Trophy Contenders in 2015

TCU Horned Frogs

TCU Horned Frogs

The ink is barely dry on the 2014 season and Athlon Sports is continuing its too early look at what is assured to be another stellar season of upsets, broken records and historic storylines.

Considering Marcus Mariota became the first preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy in more than a decade, here is a quick look at the potential frontrunners for the stiff-armed trophy in 2015:

Championship Signal Callers


Generally, quarterbacks win the Heisman Trophy. In fact, only twice since Ron Dayne in 1999 has a non-quarterback (aka, running back) won the Heisman Trophy (Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram). Of those 13 signal-callers, nine of them played in the national championship game in the same year. Odds are, the '15 Heisman winner will be in this category.

Trevone Boykin, TCU

'14 Stats: 3,901 yds, 33 TD, 10 INT, 707 rush yds, 8 TD

With revamped play-calling and coaching on offense, the former wide receiver blossomed into one of the nation's most dynamic players. He nearly led TCU into the college football playoff and will return with a team that's expected to be the favorite in the Big 12 next year.

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Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

'14: Stats: 3,449 yds, 27 TD, 11 INT, 986 rush yds, 14 TD

Prescott announced his intentions to return to school in 2015 and has a chance to lead Mississippi State to an SEC West title. He already owns every major school single-season record and could easily be the best player in the best league next fall.

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Someone, Ohio State

A quarterback is going to be a Heisman Trophy candidate at Ohio State but who that might be is still up in the air. Cardale Jones just led his team to a national championship, J.T. Barrett set school and Big Ten records before getting hurt and don't forget about Braxton Miller.

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Cody Kessler, USC

'14 Stats: 3,826 yds, 39 TD, 5 INT, 2 rush TD

The USC passer quietly posted one of the best seasons in college football and did it surrounded by freshmen and injuries. He plays a premium position at a school known for producing Heisman winners and Trojans could be a playoff team and Pac-12 frontrunner.

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Connor Cook, Michigan State

'14 Stats: 3,214 yds, 24 TD, 8 INT, 2 rush TD

The top challenger to Ohio State in the Big Ten in the third-year starter. He's an NFL prospect for a reason. He's efficient, he's a winner and he's a leader. He's 24-3 with 49 total touchdowns and just 14 interceptions in the last two years.

Other QBs to Watch:

Deshaun Watson, Clemson; Anu Solomon, Arizona; Brad Kaaya, Miami; Josh Dobbs, Tennessee; Christian Hackenberg, Penn State; Jared Goff, Cal; Seth Russell, Baylor; Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech; Marquise Williams, North Carolina; Kyle Allen, Texas A&M

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Year of the Running Back


The only non-QB to win the Heisman since '99 was Bush in '05 and Ingram in '09 — both of whom played in the national championship game on the best team in the nation. But with one of the greatest freshman running back classes in recent memory — especially, for elite teams — this could be the year a RB takes home the coveted Heisman Trophy. One look at the top returning rushers makes it easy to see why a RB could break through in '15:

Rk

Name

Team

Yr

Att

Yd

TD

Rec.

Yd

TD

1.

Nick Chubb

So.

219

1,547

14

18

213

2

2.

James Conner

Jr.

298

1,765

26

5

70

0

3.

Dalvin Cook

So.

170

1,008

8

22

203

0

4.

Leonard Fournette

So.

187

1,034

10

7

127

0

5.

Royce Freeman

So.

242

1,343

18

16

158

1

6.

Derrick Henry

Jr.

172

990

11

5

133

2

7.

Samaje Perine

So.

263

1,713

21

15

108

0

8.

Ezekiel Elliott

Jr.

237

1,632

14

21

227

0

9.

Corey Clement

Jr.

147

949

9

14

119

2

10.

Paul Perkins

Jr.

251

1,575

9

26

201

2

11.

Javorius Allen

Sr.

276

1,489

11

41

448

1

12.

Shock Linwood

Jr.

251

1,252

16

7

90

0

13.

Devontae Booker

Sr.

292

1,512

10

42

311

2

14.

Nick Wilson

So.

236

1,375

16

12

90

1

15.

Jalen Hurd

So.

190

899

5

35

221

2

16.

DJ Foster

Sr.

194

1,081

9

62

668

3

17.

Alex Collins

Jr.

204

1,100

12

3

9

0

Never Appreciated Wide Receivers

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

JuJu Smith, WR, USC

Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt

Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

KD Cannon, WR, Baylor

Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado St

William Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M

Individual Defensive Players

Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Su'a Cravens, S, USC

Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma