We've been asked us to write another post on the Heisman Trophy. While the previous two posts were about which former winner your team would have liked and a player who was snubbed, we're going to turn to the present. Can a Spartan win the award this year?
It's hard to see a scenario in which MSU wins its first Heisman Trophy this year, but you never know. MSU could have a few candidates in 2013, but let's take a look at the Spartans most likely to be in the running for the award this season.
1. RB Le'Veon Bell
Bell is the clear favorite among Spartans. 5Dimes had Bell at +12000, which is is 34th on the only odds list I could find a Spartan. The junior is coming off a season in which he rushed for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns while splitting carries with the early-departed Edwin Baker, who saw that Bell had taken over the No. 1 spot by year's end. Bell averaged 6.0 yards per carry over the final four regular season games and Big Ten championship. That coincided with the offensive line gelling after injuries early in the season. He also is a frequent target in the receiving game, recording 35 catches last season. With four starters and several backups with starting experience returning on the line, Bell could break out on the national scene this year. I think he's a legit candidate in 2013, but he could get in the conversation while the MSU offense relies on the running game this year.
See more candidates after the jump
2. CB Johnny Adams
I put Adams ahead of William Gholston only because we've seen a defensive back win before with Charles Woodson in 1997. Adams certainly would be a longshot, but the possibility of him playing both sides of the ball give him somewhat of a slim chance. Adams might be the best cornerback in the Big Ten and is projected as a possible first-round NFL Draft pick next year. Adams certainly has room to grow — he's sometimes too willing to give up the short pass instead of getting beat deep — but he's got the physical tools to shut down almost anyone. We saw Adams take some snaps on offense in the Spring Game and haul in a deep pass. If the young wide receiving corps struggles in fall camp and early in the season, we could see Adams playing his fair share on the offensive side, like Woodson did in 1997. However, Adams won't have the benefit of being in the return game. Again, he would have to have an unprecedented season, but the history of the award puts him ahead of Gholston on my list.
3. QB Andrew Maxwell
As I said with Adams, Gholston's position puts him in a terrible spot for Heisman Trophy chances. That even means a quarterback who hasn't started a game probably has a better shot. We all know that Maxwell has been groomed for this moment and couldn't be more prepared. Of the 77 Heisman Trophies awarded, 30 have gone to quarterbacks. It's a position that touches the ball on every play and gets most of the credit or blame no matter what. With those inexperienced receivers, MSU is going to rely on the running game. Like Bell, I might give Maxwell a decent shot of being in the conversation for 2013.
4. DE William Gholston
Gholston has all the physical ability to be a first-team All-American. But a defensive lineman has never won the award, and I don't see a scenario in which Gholston becomes the first. There certainly have been some all-time great defensive linemen recently, with Ndamukong Suh in 2009 perhaps being the most-deserving lineman. I don't see Gholston doing better than Suh, either this year or next year if he returns to school.
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