The top Heisman Trophy candidate in the SEC is quickly running his way to the top of Heisman lists nationally.
Here’s an update three weeks into the season on the most likely SEC candidates for college football’s top individual award:
1. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: He needs his team to continue playing at a high level, but Lattimore has everything it takes to win the Heisman Trophy. He leads the country in rushing with 534 yards and already had a big name coming into the season. He’s a terror to bring down on the field and a delight off the field. Lattimore is averaging 178 yards per game. He’s obviously not going to keep up that pace. But if he averages just over 135 yards for his next 10 games (counting a bowl game), he would break Herschel Walker’s SEC record for most rushing yards in a season. Walker rushed for 1,891 yards in 1981 and did it in 11 games.
2. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida: If you’re looking for versatility, Rainey’s your guy. He’s second to Lattimore in the SEC in all-purpose yardage, averaging 187.7 yards per game. Rainey has scored two touchdowns rushing, two touchdowns receiving and he’s also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. In addition, he's blocked a punt of his own this season, setting up a field goal last week against Tennessee, and has an SEC-record five blocked punts for his career.
3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: The big stages are yet to come for Richardson, who leads the SEC with eight touchdowns. He’s averaging 105 yards per game, 6.3 yards per carry and had touchdown runs of 71 and 58 yards last week against North Texas. These next two games against Arkansas and Florida will be big for Richardson’s Heisman chances. Remember, it wasn’t until the seventh game that Mark Ingram made his move in 2009 with that 246-yard performance against South Carolina.
4. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee: Had the Vols been able to pull out that Florida game last week, Bray would be even higher on this list. It’s going to hurt him not having Justin Hunter to throw to the rest of the season. Hunter is out for the season with a torn ACL. Still, Bray has 10 touchdown passes and 986 passing yards through three games. He’s only thrown two interceptions as well. At this rate, he’s going to finish with more than 3,500 passing yards and 35-plus touchdowns. Those would certainly be Heisman-like numbers.
5. Mike Dyer, RB, Auburn: He’s been a blur the past two weeks, moving up to second in the SEC in rushing. Dyer is averaging 119.3 yards per game and 7.5 yards per carry. He’s also scoring from long distance with a 52-yard touchdown run last week against Clemson and a 35-yard touchdown run the week before against Mississippi State. Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Dyer would get the ball even more as the Tigers go forward, which means his numbers are only going to get more impressive.