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SEC Heisman candidates

8/10/2011

It's time to take a look at the award in college football and who from the SEC might be up for that bad boy toward the end of the 2011 season.

That's right, folks, the SEC blog is tackling the Heisman Trophy. Don't worry, it's fine; it has a mean stiff-arm.

Three of the past four winners have come from the SEC. Three of the past four have been sophomores. Also, the SEC produced its first Heisman Trophy winners in back-to-back years when Cam Newton took home the award last season.

So what does that tell us? Pick a youngster from the South, and you should be fine in your Heisman pool.

Obviously, there is a lot of talent -- young and old -- in the SEC and a few players who have what it takes to win college football's most prestigious award.

Here are our five preseason SEC Heisman candidates (in alphabetical order, of course):

  • Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas: Davis burst onto the scene with a stellar second half in 2010. After rushing for 294 yards on 44 carries through his first six games, Davis kicked it up considerably, averaging 146.9 yards per game in the final seven games. He dipped below the 100-yard mark just once in that span, and his next-lowest outputs were 110 and 139 yards. Davis can flat-out fly, and he showed at times that he can slip though with enough wiggle room or break a tackle here and there. Although Arkansas has a very pass-friendly offense, Davis will be a major part of the Razorbacks' game plan.

  • Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: Jeffery proved to be the toughest receiver in the country to guard in one-on-one situations. At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, he's like covering a fast linebacker out there. Jeffery was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to nation's top receiver, after leading the SEC with 88 receptions for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. Coach Steve Spurrier and quarterback Stephen Garcia said the thing that makes Jeffery so good is his ability to catch pretty much anything thrown his way. He has exceptional hands and a very impressive vertical that allows him to manhandle smaller defensive backs.

  • Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Well, we have our sophomore from the SEC. I guess we can stop looking now. Lattimore had a monster freshman season. He was third in the league with 1,197 rushing yards and third with 17 rushing touchdowns. He also had 29 receptions for 412 yards and two more scores. Oh, and he was the unanimous choice for National Freshman of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year, and was a first-team All-SEC member. He bulked up to 231 pounds heading into the spring but cut his 40 time down to 4.5. He wants to pack more of a punch for defenders while keeping his speed, and although boxes are likely to be stacked for him, he has the power and speed to break down defenses, no matter the numbers against him.

  • Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: Another sophomore makes the list and like Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford before him, he's a quarterback back -- and a darn good one at that. Murray has more touchdown passes from a year ago (24) than any other returning starter in the SEC and passed for a Georgia freshman record 3,049 yards (second in SEC history by a freshman) in 13 starts. He also rushed 87 times for 167 yards and four more scores, giving him the school and conference record for most total offensive yards (3,216) for a freshman. Murray will be without the talents of A.J. Green, but tight end Orson Charles and receiver Tavarres King should provide solid passing targets, plus Murray hopes to get use out of a few younger receivers as well.

  • Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Richardson finally takes the reins in Alabama's backfield, and in his first year as a starter, a lot will be expected of him. He has a rare combination of strength and speed, making him a tank of a track athlete. With a young, inexperienced quarterback joining him in the Tide's backfield, Richardson's number will be called on more than maybe Mark Ingram's was. As a backup for two seasons, Richardson rushed for 1,451 yards and 14 touchdowns, and there are people around the program who think Richardson might be a better all-around back than Ingram, who won the Heisman in 2009.