NORMAN — To win the Heisman Trophy, a player needs the right combination of numbers and narrative, highlight plays and signature victories.
Johnny Manziel’s Heisman run last season was fueled by dizzying stats, a brilliant performance in Texas A&M’s upset victory against Alabama, complete with a couple of ‘did-you-see-that?’ plays, and the fact that he was trying to become the first freshman to win college football’s most prestigious individual award.
Here are six (or so) Heisman contenders and what has to happen for them to win the big bronze statue.
1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Assuming Johnny Football plays the entire season, he should put up more video-game numbers in a potent offense. Even so, it’ll be hard for him to top last season and anything less won’t have the same wow-factor. There is room for improvement in one category: victories. The Aggies went 10-2 in the regular season last year. Make that 13-0 or 12-1, with a Southeastern Conference title and a berth in the BCS championship game, and Manziel could join Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman winners.
2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Heisman voters are generally not impressed by wide receivers. Only two (Tim Brown in 1987 and Desmond Howard in 1991) have won it. Lee is coming off the most prolific season (118 catches and 1,721 yards) by a receiver in Pac-12 history. It was good enough for a distant fourth in the Heisman voting, despite USC’s disappointing fall from preseason No. 1 to 7-6. Far less is expected of the 24th-ranked Trojans this season and Lee will have a first-year starting quarterback getting him the ball. If Lee has another huge year and USC can reach the Pac-12 title game — and maybe knock off Notre Dame along the way — the story will be how he carried the new QB(s). At the least that makes him a Heisman finalist.