Young Players Who Could Eye Heisman Trophy in 2008
by Trevor Whenham - 09/28/2006
It's time to talk Heisman. Not this year's award, however. Or even next year's. Some young players from major programs are starting to show their stuff this year. The Heisman race this year, and every year, is full of juniors and seniors, so it only makes sense that the young players with jaw-dropping skill this year will be making their claim for the award in two years or so. Here, then, is probably the first preview of the 2008 Heisman race that you will come across, because you can never get too much of a jump on your betting competition:
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida - He hasn't started a game yet and has only thrown a handful of passes, but Tebow is the early leader for the trophy in 2008 If Florida keeps winning then the national love affair with Urban Meyer will continue, which will definitely help Tebow's cause.
His passing has been what you would expect of a green freshman - sketchy. He's completed 7-of-11 passes with no touchdowns and an interception. What his arm has lacked, his legs have more than made up for, however. He's carried the ball 23 times for 165 yards and a score, including some amazing runs against Kentucky. Chris Leak will get most of the snaps this year unless the Gators falter. But Meyer loves Tebow, and he's a perfect fit for the Meyer offense, so the future is bright for both the team and the player.
Emmanuel Moody, RB, USC - Replacing Reggie Bush is not an easy task, but Moody has put his claim on the position. He wasn't the likely choice before the season started, but he has impressed since. Moody has racked up 258 yards in three games, which is a decent start to a career. However, it's especially impressive when you consider he has only carried 37 times. That's an average of seven yards per carry. He officially arrived with 130 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. John David Booty will have gone onto the NFL by 2008, so Moody will get a chance to shine as the next Trojan quarterback is finding his legs.
Pat White, QB, West Virginia - White is already in the discussion this year, so imagine what he'll be doing with another year and a half of starting under his belt. He'll be the senior quarterback with loads of talent who is steadily improving (think Brady Quinn). The Mountaineers are likely one win over Louisville away from a huge BCS game this year, and they will stay in the national spotlight with White making the calls.
Willie Tuitama, QB, Arizona - Tuitama is in a slump this year, and his effort against USC was underwhelming. The guy has all the tools in the world, however, and he'll be a senior with four years of starting by 2008. He completed 58 percent of his passes last year with nine TDS against five picks, showing what he can do. Now he just has to raise it another level, and his line needs to protect him. His biggest asset will be coach Bob Stoops. He has a big job of turning around this Wildcats program, but he is recruiting well, the team is playing better and by 2008 they should be very competitive in the Pac-10.
Joe Cox, QB, Georgia - Cox wasn't deemed good enough to beat out Matthew Stafford for the starting job at the start of the season, but now he is a state hero after his performance against Colorado. His two TD passes in the fourth quarter saved the Bulldogs from a very, very embarrassing shutout loss. It also showed that he is the kind of guy who thrives under pressure. Heisman voters love last minute heroics. He'll have to beat Stafford out for the starting job first, but with the way Stafford has played, that shouldn't be too tough.
Hunter Cantwell, QB, Louisville - Louisville keeps getting better, and they will keep improving as long as Head Coach Bobby Petrino stays in town. Cantwell has shown that he can play when he has filled in for the fragile Brian Brohm. He has been very accurate so far this year, and once he has the team to himself he could really be impressive. Heisman voters love gaudy statistics put up on a good team, and the Louisville offense will let Cantwell really pile up the numbers.
Longshot - Chris Nickson, QB, Vanderbilt - His candidacy depends on several factors. First, Jay Cutler has to make it as a pro by then. If Cutler is a budding star then Vandy will have more credibility. Next, the Commodores have to keep improving. They are playing a solid schedule and they are showing the occasional spark, but they have a long way to go. Nickson was Alabama's "Mr. Football", so he has game. He'll be a fifth year senior by 2008, so, if things come together just right, Nickson could be in the Heisman conversation.