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Heisman 2013: An early look

By Chris Huston | College Football Writer
Ohio State's Braxton Miller is the 2013 Heisman front-runner (US Presswire)

A whole half a day has passed since the 2012 Heisman was awarded.

Enough relaxing. Time to start thinking about 2013.

What players have the best chance to actually win the Heisman next fall?

It's a long way off, but here's an early look:

Braxton Miller, QB, Jr., Ohio State -- This year's fifth-place finisher in the Heisman vote is the front-runner for 2013. He plays for a traditional power coming off an undefeated season, and he should explode for big numbers in his second year in Urban Meyer's offense.

Marcus Mariota, QB, So., Oregon -- The best freshman quarterback this side of College Station should once again thrive in the Quack Attack. With the Ducks loaded for another title run, he should figure prominently in the Heisman discussion.

Aaron Murray, QB, Sr., Georgia -- If he comes back for another year, he'll own every conceivable SEC passing record. He had the Bulldogs on the brink of the national title game this season, and he'll command another loaded offense in 2013.

Marqise Lee, WR, Jr., USC -- The Biletnikoff winner placed fourth in this year's Heisman vote, and he'll be the all-purpose challenger next season. He'll have to adjust well to USC's new quarterback if he is to be a factor in the race.

AJ McCarron, QB, Sr., Alabama -- He could be coming off his second consecutive national title and a season in which he led the nation in passing efficiency. Voters love quarterbacks with that kind of career resume. If he caps it with a superlative senior campaign, he'll be in the mix.

Tajh Boyd, QB, Sr., Clemson -- Assuming Boyd returns, you have to expect he'll have another productive season in Chad Morris's offense, especially with talents like Sammy Watkins to throw to.

Brett Hundley, QB, So., UCLA -- He had the best freshman season in UCLA history. If he improves as a sophomore, he could make a run at the trophy.

Blake Bell, QB, Jr., Oklahoma -- The "Belldozer" will go mainstream in 2013. Just imagine a bunch of passing touchdowns being added to his impressive rushing totals -- 24 scores the last two seasons -- and it's no wonder he makes this list.

Others to Watch: T.J. Yeldon, RB, So., Alabama; Eddie Lacy, RB, Sr., Alabama; Todd Gurley, RB, So., Georgia; Jeff Driskel,QB, Jr., Florida; Duke Johnson, RB, So., Miami; Devin Gardner,QB, Jr., Michigan; Ameer Abdullah, RB, Jr., Nebraska; Everett Golson, QB, So., Notre Dame; Kevin Hogan, QB, Jr., Stanford; David Ash, QB, Jr., Texas; De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Jr., Oregon; Taylor Martinez, QB, Sr., Nebraska

Wait, are you crazy? What about Johnny Manziel?

Read this to understand why he's not on the list.

What about defense? Didn't Manti Te'o prove pure defenders have a shot at winning?

Indeed, he did. But that doesn't mean defenders still aren't at a huge disadvantage when it comes to the Heisman race. That said, if any defensive player has a chance to win it next season, it's Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, who finished sixth in this year's race.

Of course, this is a very preliminary list. Some players will go pro. Some might be declared ineligible. Others could get in trouble. When spring ball wraps up, we'll have a much better idea of who will challenge for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

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