08/06/10 — Stevens: Heisman race is wide-open candidacy

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Stevens: Heisman race is wide-open candidacy

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 6, 2010 1:46 PM

Short on depth but deep on talent makes this season's Heisman Trophy race a wide-open candidacy.

Alabama tailback Mark Ingram was on nobody's Heisman list at the start of the 2009 season. Ingram silenced doubters by rushing for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns on his way to becoming the third consecutive sophomore to win the Heisman.

From last season's winner, to a trio of quarterbacks poised for breakout seasons, the following is a look at this year's Heisman hopefuls:

* Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: Ingram's entire body of the work last season won him the Heisman, but it was his performances in big games that separated him from the rest of the field. The Flint, Mich., native rushed for more than 100 yards against Virginia Tech, LSU, Florida (SEC title game) and versus Texas (BCS championship).

It will be tough for Ingram to match last year's numbers and sharing carries with budding halfback Trent Richardson could lessen Ingram's production.

The Crimson Tide have a legitimate shot to play for a second national title and if Alabama's in the hunt, Ingram will be in the Heisman conversation.

* Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State: In the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl victory over Oregon, Pryor showed flashes of being the quarterback many thought he would be coming out of high school.

The 6-foot-6 Pryor lit up the Ducks for 266 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and another 72 yards on the ground. It was just Pryor's third 200-plus yard passing game of the season.

The Buckeyes have a manageable schedule with contests against Miami and Penn State as the only true tests. If Pryor can improve his consistency as a passer, he should be among the Heisman finalists.

* Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Locker passed on what many believed to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft to return for his senior season. In head coach Steve Sarkisian's NFL-style offense, Locker saw his completion percentage increase nearly 10 percent last year over his first two seasons.

The dual-threat quarterback has passed for more than 2,000 yards in two of the past three seasons aside from his injury-shortened campaign in 2008. Locker has also compiled double-digit interceptions in two of the past three years.

Cutting down on turnovers and navigating road games at Pac-10 foes USC and Oregon should decide Locker's Heisman fate.

* Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Perhaps the least known of the Heisman contenders, Moore has thrown for more than 3,400 yards the past seasons, including last year's totals of 3,536 yards and 39 touchdowns.

Moore has tossed 64 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions over the previous two seasons and the Broncos have gone 26-1 during that stretch.

Moore will have a chance to display his talents in Boise's opener in a nationally-televised showdown with Virginia Tech on Labor Day. Outside of a meeting with the Hokies, Moore doesn't face another marquee opponent the remainder of the regular season.

If the Broncos don't win their opener, the hopes of playing for a national title will fade just as fast as Moore's shot at the Heisman.