The 2014 college football season is coming soon! A huge storyline every college season is who will be named the best player in the nation and lift the Heisman Trophy. Jameis Winston won the Heisman last year after an outstanding freshman season. This year as always, there are many talented playmakers across the nation who will compete for this year's edition of one of the most prized individual awards in American sports. Here are my top five candidates coming into 2014.
1. QB Jameis Winston, FSU
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Yes, he won it last year, and yes, he is the favorite again this year. In his remarkable Heisman-winning season last year, Winston passed for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns while winning multiple awards, going 14-0, and throwing the game-winning touchdown in the BCS Championship game. Pretty good season, I would say. Jameis will look to stash aside his bling this season and build on his accomplishments. He will be the focal point of the FSU offense in 2014 and should put up huge numbers again in Tallahassee. Winston has a great arm and can also tuck it and run it himself and pick up a few yards when called upon even though he is primarily known as a pocket-passer. He is a bonafide superstar, and his team should see a little success this year as well.
2. QB Nick Marshall, Auburn
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Auburn surely experienced their fair share of miraculous finishes and a little luck along the way to an SEC Championship-winning season and were thirteen seconds away from pulling an upset of the FSU Seminoles and winning it all. Despite some magical finishes, make no mistake, Auburn was and is loaded with talent. One huge reason for the Tiger's success in 2013 was the emergence of one of the top playmakers and best all-around athletes in college football. That man is QB Nick Marshall.
Marshall was a JUCO transfer that burst on to the scene, passing for almost 2,000 yards and rushing for another 1,068. This year Auburn will be without Heisman finalist RB Tre Mason who has gone on to the NFL. Marshall will now be the main vocal point of the offense for Gus Malzahn's Auburn squad. Marshall is an extremely talented playmaker who is extremely adept at not only tucking the ball and running himself but also is a very underrated passer. Look for his passing stats to improve in 2014 and for Marshall again to put up huge numbers on the Plains.
3. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Mark Helfrich's has consistently one of the top offenses in college football. Mariota is the perfect fit to run the up-tempo and high-powered Duck O in Eugene. Mariota embodies the speed, athleticism, and dual-threat ability that Oregon desperately wants in a QB. In this offense, look for Mariota to put up huge numbers again this season. In 2013, Mariota threw for 3,665 yards for 31 TDs and rushed for 715 yards and scored 9 times. He is truly an offensive juggernaut at Oregon and with guys like WR Josh Huff and WR/RB De'Anthony Thomas gone to the greener pastures of the NFL, look for Mariota to be called upon even more to lead his team.
4. QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State
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Urban Meyer has done a fantastic job in Colombus. Then again, it helps having Braxton Miller as your QB. This man can play. In 2013, the now Senior QB from Huber Heights, Ohio, threw for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for a 1,068 more yards with 12 TDs on the ground. He's one of the top dual-threat QBs in the nation. He's fast, and he's got a great arm. With the Big Ten grind (Ok, more like coast), Miller should again stuff the stat sheets and contend for a spot in the new CFB playoff.
5. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
Yes, a RB actually breaks into my top five Heisman contenders' list. Todd Gurley is a beast, plain and simple. He's got NFL scouts drooling over him and thinking he might slip up into the 1st round of the NFL draft which is rare for a running back in this day and age. Gurley is the perfect blend of size, speed, agility, and power. He is very hard to bring down and is known for his ability to break tackles. He is without a doubt the best running back in all of college football. Last season, Gurley battled injuries much of the year but still managed to rush for almost 1,000 yards and 10 scores. He also showed his ability to catch passes out of the backfield by compiling 441 receiving yards and 6 TDs. He's a preseason 1st Team All-American for a reason. With a QB like Aaron Murray departing, Gurley might be depended on more to lead this Georgia offense. And yes, he'll definitely play on Sundays one of these days.
Best of the Rest: QB Bryce Petty, Baylor; QB Brett Hundley, UCLA; RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, RB Mike Davis, South Carolina
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