- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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We want to pass along our sincere congratulations here at the SEC blog to Robert Griffin III on his selection as the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner.
He’s a terrific football player and a delight to watch play.
But now that the suspense is over for this year, it’s not too early to look ahead to next year.
Besides RG3, who are the favorites to win the 2012 Heisman Trophy?
We’ve come up with four candidates in the SEC, and there are sure to be others who emerge. We’re not including Alabama’s Trent Richardson, only because we feel like he’ll decide to turn pro.
So here goes:
1. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: A finalist this year for the Heisman Trophy, Mathieu will be a junior next season, and that built-in mechanism he possesses for finding the ball and making plays isn’t going anywhere. The “Honey Badger” will be a known commodity heading into next season, too. As a rule, defensive players don’t win the Heisman. But anybody who’s watched Mathieu play understands what a profound impact he has on every game -- defensively and on special teams.
2. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Before he injured his knee this season, Lattimore was right there in the Heisman Trophy conversation with Richardson in SEC circles. Lattimore will work feverishly to get back to where he was physically, and you can bet the Gamecocks are going to feed him the ball next season. Lattimore has 2,015 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns in 20 career games. If he stays healthy, he has a chance to be a 1,500-yard rusher next season.
3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: With a decent outing in the Outback Bowl, Murray can join the exclusive ranks in the SEC of a 3,000-yard and 30-touchdown passer this season. He was at his best this season down the stretch and was especially good at spreading the ball around. He threw 33 touchdown passes with 10 different players catching at least one of those scoring tosses. Freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell returns as one of the best deep threats in the league next season, which means Murray will have a chance for even more big plays in 2012.
4. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: As talented as Ryan Mallett was for the Hogs, Wilson stepped in at quarterback this season, and Arkansas really didn’t miss a beat offensively. Showing his toughness time and time again, Wilson led the SEC with 3,422 passing yards and also threw 22 touchdown passes. He’ll lose a couple of his key receivers in Jarius Wright and Joe Adams next season, but finding playmakers hasn't been a problem for the Hogs. Wilson should be even more productive in his second season as a starter.