In what is becoming less and less rare, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is back to try to win the award again.
Texas A&M Aggies’ quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman in 2012 and returned for his redshirt sophomore season. However, nagging injuries, off-the-field problems and mainly a poor defense kept him from repeating. Instead, Florida State Seminoles’ quarterback Jameis Winston quickly became the second freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. He, of course, also led the Seminole to a perfect 14-0 season and a last second win over the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship Game.
Winston and Manziel aren’t the only players to return after winning the Heisman lately.
Former Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram won in 2009 and lost out to former Auburn Tigers’ quarterback Cam Newton in 2010. Former Florida Gators’ quarterback Tim Tebow took home the award in 2007 and although returned to play for two more years leading the Gators to the 2008 National Championship, former Oklahoma Sooners’ quarterback Sam Bradford took home the trophy in 2008.
Winston enters the year as the favorite but it is obviously extremely hard to win the trophy again (it’s been done once – former Ohio State Buckeyes’ running back Archie Griffin won in 1974 and 1975).
Other candidates include Oregon Ducks’ quarterback Marcus Mariota, who may have been the favorite before his injury last season, Georgia Bulldogs’ running back Todd Gurley, Wisconsin Badgers’ running back Melvin Gordon, Baylor Bears’ quarterback Bryce Petty and UCLA Bruins’ quarterback Brett Hundley.
FanSided has compiled a list of games that will most influence the Heisman during the opening week of college football.
Mariota and Petty are obvious contenders but with the Ducks hosting the South Dakota Coyotes (Saturday, August 30, 10:30 pm EST, Pac-12 Network) and the Bears playing host to the SMU Mustangs (Sunday, August 31, 7:30 pm EST, Fox Sports 1), they don’t exactly have marquee matchups, so they have not been included.
Click the slideshow to check out the most important games in regard to college football’s most prestigious award.