The Big 12 has sent six Heisman Trophy finalists to New York in the last six years, but the conference did not have a finalist in 2013. And beyond two obvious favorites, it’s hard to peg Big 12 players who are poised to make a big jump all the way into the Heisman discussion.
Three of the league’s better quarterbacks -- Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf, TCU’s Casey Pachall and Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield -- won’t be in the picture next year, but a few good ones return. Same goes for running back, where Charles Sims of West Virginia is one of several blue chip seniors graduating.
Who has the best chance of dethroning Jameis Winston? Here’s a look at your three Big 12 Heisman hopefuls for 2014:
1. Baylor QB Bryce Petty
Petty has already declared he’ll be back for his senior season in 2014 and has a chance to improve off an already statistically impressive first year as a starter. He threw for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns with just two interceptions, rushed for 11 touchdowns and led FBS in yards per attempt at 17.4. He’ll lose one of his favorite targets, Tevin Reese, but the Bears are stockpiled at wide receiver and have two ESPN 300 receiver recruits committed.
2. Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk
There’s still a reasonable possibility that Seastrunk enters the NFL Draft, and he’s still considering that option. He put up strong numbers again in 2013, with 1,060 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, but also missed more than two games with a groin injury. That injury damaged the Heisman hopes he talked about all year long. Perhaps another chance at the trophy -- and a chance to chase a national title -- will sway him to return.
3. Texas RB Johnathan Gray
Gray was on pace for a 1,000-yard season and was playing up to his five-star potential as a sophomore before a torn Achilles at West Virginia ended his season. After Texas lost David Ash, Gray stepped up and ran like an All-Big 12 caliber back with 780 yards. He’ll be healthy in time for fall practice and should be the focal point of the Longhorns’ offense in 2014. The last time Texas had a first-year head coach was Ricky Williams’ Heisman season.