Talking about the Heisman Trophy now is almost ridiculous. After all, baseball just started, so the start of football season is far off, and the end of the season seems a lifetime away. Still, with spring ball almost at its end, this is a good time to look to see what value there is in the futures and offer some 2013 Heisman Trophy predictions. The good thing is that very few people are paying any attention, so the chances of there being an attractive price are better now than they will be in the fall. (all odds are from Bovada)
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (4/1)
I have all sorts of respect for “Johnny Football,” but he is a truly terrible bet at this price. In fact, his odds would have to be five or six times what they are in order for me to even start considering him. Last year he came from nowhere and was a great story. This year he is a superstar, and everyone will be watching his every move. It’s very tough to stand up under that scrutiny. He won’t be working under offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury this year, and he won’t be able to sneak up on opponents. Could he win again? Sure — he’s a very special talent. It’s just not likely to happen.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (7/1)
I can’t stand Urban Meyer. I detest Ohio State with every fiber of my being. Yet I can’t argue that Miller isn’t a solid bet. In his second year under Meyer, he should have more confidence, and more comfort with the system. Add that stability to his maturity and depths of athleticism, and you have a player that is going to be tough to beat. The team was unbeaten last year, and it could be even better this season, so the Buckeyes have the pieces to make a run. As much as I hate to admit it, Miller is the clear favorite to win despite the odds.
Marquis Lee, WR, USC (7/1)
Lee is a freakish talent, but this price is ridiculous. Lee just has too much to overcome. The last wide receiver to win the award was Desmond Howard, and that was back in 1991. Lee has to work with a new starter, and he has to overcome the burden of playing for a coach that is almost universally disliked — a big hurdle to overcome in the popularity contest that is Heisman voting. Way too much of a gamble at this price.
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama (10/1)
There is intriguing value here at this price. McCarron earned a lot of respect from doubters with his play in the National Championship Game, and even critics are accepting that he is more than just a guy who avoids mistakes. The Tide will again be a very serious contender — they are the strong favorites to win it all again next year. If McCarron leads the team to another undefeated season, it would be very tough to ignore him. It also helps his cause that despite an incredible run of success the Tide has only won one Heisman under Saban — Mark Ingram in 2009. The biggest hurdle is that running back T.J. Yeldon (14/1) will also be a strong contender who could split the vote, and there is so much talent on this team that another viable candidate could emerge as well.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (10/1)
I have a hard time trusting both Murray and the Bulldogs, so I don’t see much value here. With a strong year, though, Murray certainly has the profile to be a real contender.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (12/1)
Can Thomas overcome all the hurdles in his way — a coaching change, the distraction of the NCAA’s witch hunt for violations in Oregon, and a Pac-12 that just keeps getting better and deeper? If he can manage that, he certainly has the talent and the ability to make the highlight reel plays every week that is required to win this award. Given that he is on the West Coast and that Oregon was such a flop in the Championship Game last year, though, I’m skeptical at this price.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (12/1)
There is strong value here. Johnson isn’t a high-profile player yet, but he is a freakish talent with the chance to have a special year on a Miami team that could be a real contender. He probably can’t afford to lose more than one game, and he’ll need to lead the country in key statistics. Both things are possible, though, and because of that he’s an intriguing option.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (12/1)
There is value here as well. Bridgewater is getting a lot of buzz right now as potentially the top QB in next year’s draft class, and that buzz will only grow through the season. He is handicapped by playing for a school that isn’t a traditional power, but he could overcome that if he leads his team to a very strong record. He’s a special player who could show it this year.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (12/1)
This is a very interesting puzzle. The public seems hungry for a defensive winner after coming so close a couple of times. Clowney is very high-profile since he’s all but a lock to be the top pick in the draft next year at this point, and his hit of Vincent Smith in his bowl game only elevated his stature. He has what it takes to get the attention of voters — he’ll compile big numbers and make bone-jarring hits. The biggest concern is whether he will play at full strength all year or if the team will be cautious with him to keep him healthy for the pros. Given that uncertainty, there is risk here. However, this price seems fair.
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