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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Pac-10 Heisman list

By Ted Miller

The Heisman Pundit website has been around a long time -- at least in Internet years -- and is widely seen as an expert on how the selection process for the Heisman Trophy goes.

You can read its "10 HEISMANDMENTS" here and see its preseason Heisman Poll here.

On Tuesdays going forward, we're going to have a Heisman update post. But we thought it would be a good idea to put together a preseason top-10.

So here we go.

1. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State: Rodgers is the most accomplished player in the Pac-10, therefore he has good name recognition. The key for him is putting up big numbers in the rugged nonconference schedule -- TCU and Boise State -- to create momentum.

2. Jake Locker, QB, Washington: He's got the name recognition. He's got help on offense. He's got a marquee schedule. But can he win enough to stay front-and-center? Big numbers in an upset win over Nebraska and its tough defense would be his launching point.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: The top talent on what most feel is the team that will win the Pac-10. Also, he's a great home run threat, which means good things for a highlight package. Problem: His backup Kenjon Barner is really good, too, and will get plenty of touches.

4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: He's got the talent and name recognition. Toby Gerhart proved last year that a Stanford player on a good but not great team could nearly win the Heisman. So big numbers for Luck could land him in the race.

5. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: Foles looks primed to make a big jump this year with a veteran supporting cast. If he throws for 300 yards and a few touchdowns in an upset win over Iowa, he'd make more than a few lists.

6. Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Typically the USC quarterback makes the list because he's the USC quarterback. But that might work against Barkley this fall. Still, he's a major talent with lots of weapons, and the Trojans play a favorable schedule. If the wins are piling up as the Trojans surge in the AP poll, Barkley could start to make some lists.

7. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State: His brother gets more publicity but most recognize that James Rodgers is just as valuable to the Beavers. He's always been an elusive playmaker with the ball in his hands, but he's also become a polished receiver. And guess what: quarterback Ryan Katz throws a pretty deep ball. If James Rodgers catches a couple vs. TCU and Boise State, he could make a push.

8. Shane Vereen, RB, California: What if Cal is better than people think? If quarterback Kevin Riley forces defenses to play honest, Vereen could roll up some big numbers. And that could generate some momentum. If you want a comparison from the Bay Area: Recall Gerhart's candidacy.

9. Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Polk is a physical runner with good speed. He breaks tackles and he can scoot away from a defense. Obviously, his candidacy is a long shot because of Locker. But what if Locker's numbers are merely good while Polk runs for 1,700 yards and 25 touchdowns? It also would help that the return of the Huskies to respectability is a good story.

10. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC: He's the Trojans' best deep threat. He's a long shot. But if he starts to make highlight-reel plays on a regular basis, who knows?