This site has become less frequently referenced in recent years, possibly because many of its Heismandments have been proven false as the award has evolved (they now feature a bunch of caveats reflecting various exceptions that have arisen). However, the site is still a pretty good resource for Heisman discussion. It's just released its first 2012 watch list, and Marcus Lattimore made the cut:
Tavon Austin, Sr., AP, West Virginia
Montee Ball, Sr., RB, Wisconsin
Matt Barkley, Sr., QB, USC
Tajh Boyd, Jr., QB, Clemson
Tyler Bray, Jr., QB, Tennessee
Knile Davis, Jr., RB, Arkansas
James Franklin, Jr., QB, Missouri
Landry Jones, Sr., QB, Oklahoma
Collin Klein, Sr., QB, Kansas State
Marcus Lattimore, Jr., RB, South Carolina
Aaron Murray, Jr., QB, Georgia
Keith Price, Jr., QB, Washington
Denard Robinson, Sr., QB, Michigan
Geno Smith, Sr., QB, West Virginia
De’Anthony Thomas, So., RB, Oregon
Sammy Watkins, So, WR, Clemson
Tyler Wilson, Sr., QB, Arkansas
Cierre Wood, Sr., RB, Notre Dame
Discussion after the jump.
What are Lattimore's real chances? One Heismandment that is probably relevant to Lattimore's case is the following:
a. A running back who is NOT on a traditional power or a national championship contender must gain at least 2,000 yards. This hefty yardage requirement for such backs has risen a bit over the years as the longer regular season has made it more commonplace. A back on a traditional power or national title contender, must gain at least 1,600 yards. In either case, the back must score at least 15 touchdowns.
It oftentimes ends up coming across as unfair that certain great players are held to a much higher standard because they play for a non-name brand team that's not in the top five, but the fact remains that the Heisman can be a bit of a beauty pageant. That's playing against Lattimore. South Carolina's profile has improved in recent years, but it's definitely not perceived as being on a level with the various Heisman darling programs. Moreover, while I don't think a national championship is an utter impossibility for this team, we're clearly not one of the favorites at this point. If that doesn't change, Lattimore will have to have a truly unbelievable season to win the Heisman. It's not out of the realm of possibilities that he could run for 2000 yards; at one point last year, actually, it seemed possible that he might. It should also be noted that Lattimore's receiving ability may make a difference for him; particularly with a quarterback in Connor Shaw who knows how to hit a checkdown, Lattimore is likely to catch for a few hundred yards and a few touchdowns. However, with Lattimore likely to be eased back into full-time duty while leading a loaded backfield, I have a feeling that something more like his 2010 numbers are most likely, although hopefully with a better average per carry. That won't do it for a Heisman run unless we're a top-five caliber team and Lattimore has some really big showings against top competition.
One other thing to note: I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't say that calling Tajh Boyd a Heisman contender is an absurdity. One thing he has in his favor is that there aren't many obviously great QBs in play for what is typically a QB's award, but I can't see Boyd being a serious contender. And this isn't coming from the orange-hater in me. Andre Ellington and Sammy Watkins are both excellent players, and either would be a worthy contender, should he have a really big year. However, Boyd is a very average QB. The blueprint has more or less been laid for how to beat him: pressure, pressure, pressure. Protection may again be a problem for Clemson this year, and until Boyd proves that he's able to stand up and make throws in a collapsing pocket and not take half a dozen sacks per game, I can't see him winning this award.