It's never too soon to start talking about the Heisman Trophy. After all, we're only nine months away from the presentation ceremony.
I posted a video mailbag Monday answering a question about who the dark horse candidates might be from the Pac-12. We know who the favorites are -- Marqise Lee, Marcus Mariota, Ka'Deem Carey, Brett Hundley and De'Anthony Thomas all come to mind in no particular order. Those are the guys who will start the season in the limelight. Whether that carries through until November/December is up to them.
But what about the guys who aren't immediately on the radar? So, for your Tuesday poll question: Which Pac-12 player could emerge from dark horse to viable Heisman candidate?
Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA: One of the premier defensive players in the nation, Barr is only going to get better in his second year at the position. Expect big -- measurable numbers from him like sacks, tackles for a loss, etc. Defensive players never get much love, but he's the kind of player who could transcend the bias and get a trip to New York.
Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford: Starting off on a top-5 team will help -- and if he's got good numbers heading into the final month of the season -- where Stanford faces Oregon, USC, Cal and Notre Dame -- his profile could really be elevated.
Taylor Kelly, QB, ASU: He was second in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency behind Mariota and was tied for third in touchdown passes in his first year as a starter. With upgraded wide receivers, the bulk of his favorite targets returning and the fact that he'll add rushing numbers makes him an interesting candidate -- though probably the longest shot of the bunch unless ASU can start 5-0 with wins over Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame.
Will Sutton, DT, ASU: Like Barr, he's the kind of defensive player who can play his way through the defensive bias. He'll be putting up numbers that most defensive linemen, let alone defensive tackles, can't match. Will that be enough though to convince folks to overlook the offensive skill players?
Others: Washington RB Bishop Sankey comes to mind as a guy who could put up big numbers. Same for Oregon RB Byron Marshall and Arizona receiver Austin Hill. With so many A-list offensive players in the league, it's easy to fall back on the front-runners. But the Heisman has produced some surprise winners in the past few seasons.