Before I start and get into any particulars, I do realize that team success is a big part in receiving an invitation to New York City as a finalist for the Heisman, and an even bigger part of winning with the trophy itself.
Cooper and Mariota will be competing in the first ever Football Final Four for Alabama and Oregon respectively.
And Gordon's Wisconsin Badgers did finish the season 10-3 and earn a spot in the B1G Conference Championship Game.
One could argue that Gordon makes it this far in spite of the season his team had, as 2,336 yards rushing and 26 TDs should get you to NYC on any team.
Nonetheless you get the picture. Winning is a key factor in the process.
If the Hurricanes have another 6-6 season in 2015, not only will their fans be extra cranky, the accolades will again be reserved for other players.
For argument's sake, let us say that UM finally, FINALLY, finally (can I say finally?) gets over the hump and at minimum reaches the ACCCG in Charlotte in 2015.
Will they have a Heisman Candidate as well?
I think so.
And here are the three guys I see as having the most potential, albeit each has circumstance/factors they need to overcome to get there.
#1 Duke Johnson - First and foremost this is completely dependent upon Johnson returning for his senior season. If he decides to fore go it, he could very well be in line for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year instead. But IF Duke comes back, he should jump to the front of the line as the preseason favorite to pick up the award. As we all know, he is already the all time Miami leader in yards from scrimmage as well as rushing yards. Look at how much he has improved this season from last running between the tackles and in the passing game. With his work ethic and a strong offensive line returning (especially if Ereck Flowers joins his H.S. teammate and comes back as well) there is no reason to believe he won't improve upon 1,520 yards, a ridiculous 7.0 ypc, and 33 catches. Johnson also has the off the field image and heroic personality to pick up some extra votes should he make it that far.
Early odds to win (if he comes back): 7 to 1
#2 Brad Kaaya - Kaaya has already garnered some national attention for putting together a true freshman season for the record books. Should the aforementioned Johnson leave early, you can guess who will be the focal point of the 2015 UM offense. One would expect in either case, his sophomore campaign promises a big time jump over what he put together in 2014 (2,962 yards, 58.6 Comp %, 25/11 TD/INT). Additionally Kaaya has the Joe Cool demeanor and charisma to capture the imagination of the media if the 'Canes have sudden on field success. He's not exactly a scrambler, so he'd have to put up upwards of 4-5,000 yards and 40+ passing TDs for serious consideration, but with his smarts and accuracy it is not out of the question.
Early odds to win: 25 to 1
#3 Stacy Coley - Before you laugh your way right off of this article, take a second to consider A) The type of freshman season Coley had and B) The incredible talent he possesses. We've already pondered what has caused his titanic drop off in his sophomore season (injuries, misuse?) and how important he could be in Kaaya's development and success next year. He should emerge as the #1 outside threat on the team in 2015 with Phillip Dorsett and Clive Walford graduating. That should mean plenty of targets. But where Coley really needs to return to form is in the punt and kick off return games. Though he could also do some work on reverses and jet sweeps. One season ago, Coley was the only player in the NCAA with a touchdown on the ground, through the air, and in both return games. A redemption season in 2015 seems more a possibility than a long shot, considering his talent. Of course, a big off season is needed first.
Early odds to win: 500 to 1
As you watch tonight's presentation (not to mention countdown the minutes to the start of "The U Part II") imagine a ceremony in the near future where a 'Cane is invited.
It's not altogether that hard to picture.