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Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Another Heisman winner from the SEC?

By Chris Low

Bruce Feldman of ESPN The Magazine ranked his top 10 darkhorse candidates for the 2011 Heisman Trophy last week.

Naturally, there were a few SEC guys on the list. How could there not be?

Alshon Jeffery
South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery is among the SEC's Heisman Trophy candidates.
Auburn's Cam Newton and Alabama's Mark Ingram have proven unequivocally the past two years that preseason hype doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to winning college football's most prestigious individual honor.

At least, in this era, it doesn't.

Nobody had Newton on the Heisman Trophy radar this time a year ago. He hadn't even been named the Tigers' starting quarterback yet and had played primarily in a mop-up role at Florida before leaving school.

The same goes for Ingram in 2009. While he had a solid freshman season with 728 rushing yards in 2008, he was a backup to Glen Coffee.

You're talking about two players who were the ultimate darkhorse candidates, guys who weren't even first- or second-team All-SEC selections the year prior to winning the Heisman Trophy.

So who are those guys this coming season in the SEC?

Feldman has South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery No. 5 on his list, Auburn running back Mike Dyer No. 8 and incoming Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell tied for No. 10.

Those SEC players that just missed the cut, according to Feldman, were Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and LSU receiver Russell Shepard.

I'd add three more to Feldman's list -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and Florida running back Chris Rainey.

As for the obvious Heisman candidates in the SEC next season, my top three right now, in alphabetical order, would be Arkansas running back Knile Davis, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

Here's a look at Feldman's entire list of darkhorse Heisman candidates for 2011:

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
4. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
5. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
6. Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
7. Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State
8. Mike Dyer, RB, Auburn
9. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
t-10. Jeff Godfrey, QB, UCF
t-10. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia