Too-early Big 12 Heisman look

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
10:00
AM ET
What do you mean they just handed out the Heisman on Saturday night?

That's ancient history, right? Maybe not for those in Waco, but it's never too early to look ahead.

Here are a few Big 12 guys to look out for in the Heisman race next season.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Kelly Kline/Getty ImagesSure, he just won it. But if he returns to Baylor next season, could Robert Griffin win the Heisman two years in a row?
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Believe it or not, because of a medical redshirt for a 2009 torn ACL, RGIII has another year of eligibility remaining. The reigning Heisman winner will have to decide whether he wants to enter the draft this year, and if he doesn't he'll play next season without 1,500-yard receiver Kendall Wright. Still, he'd be near the top of the list next year if he decided to bid for a repeat.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein developed some big-time momentum as a second-tier Heisman candidate late this season, and he could carry that over into 2012. He got better and better as a passer as the season went on, and he'll have some big-time name recognition if the Wildcats can knock off Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl in prime time on Jan. 6. His 26 rushing touchdowns are a big, big number. The only player with more this season was Heisman finalist Montee Ball of Wisconsin. K-State brings back a lot from a 10-win team this season that could knock on the door of next year's preseason top 10.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones was the favorite entering 2011, but late losses and a lack of touchdowns knocked him out of the race. Jones will have to decide whether he wants to come back, but after a rough finish and plenty to stay for, I'm betting he returns. He won't have his top receiver, Ryan Broyles, and it'll be interesting to see how the BellDozer formation fits into Oklahoma's offense next season. Either way, Jones is one of the nation's most talented QBs playing for a national power. He'll be in the conversation.

Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle quietly put together a season on par with any running back in the Big 12, and as Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon leave, he'll emerge as the biggest name and most reliable talent for OSU next season. How many people realize Randle ran for 23 touchdowns this season? Only three players in the FBS had more, and he added 1,193 yards to finish third in the Big 12. He averaged over 6 yards a carry this season and will probably get even more touches while OSU breaks in a new quarterback next season.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Hey, the new guys! West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen's last four quarterbacks have been Graham Harrell, Case Keenum, Brandon Weeden and Smith. Not bad. Smith will be in Year 2 under Holgorsen next season after throwing for 25 touchdowns and 3,978 yards as a junior this season. The transition to the Big 12 won't be easy, but Smith could be in for a special senior season.

Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas: Brown was nagged by injuries this season and will have to fight off Joe Bergeron and newcomer Johnathan Gray in the backfield next season, but he was reliable when he was healthy, and Texas' intentions are clear. Its quarterbacks didn't show a ton of potential this season, and the Longhorns are still thin at receiver. Brown will get a lot of touches and turned just 159 carries into 707 yards this season.

Who else could get a look in the Big 12 next year?

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