The 2013 college football season got off to a fast start with several brilliant performances around the nation. Doing a Heisman Watch after one week is rather pointless because many of the guys on this list won’t be there at season’s end, and I will inevitably leave someone off who will be a serious contender for the award by November.
But, I’m going to do it anyway. Throughout the season, I’ll break the Heisman candidates into four different categories: the front runners, those just off the pace, those falling off the pace, and the dark horses. Here’s the Heisman Watch after one week:
The Front Runners
Tajh Boyd (QB/Clemson)
Tajh Boyd put together a dazzling performance in front of a raucous crowd in Death Valley. Boyd led the Tigers to a 38-35 win over Georgia that springboarded him to the top of the Heisman race and Clemson into the national title picture. Boyd threw for 270 yards on 18-of-30 passing and scored five total touchdowns. He threw three, and rushed for two more to lead the Tigers to the win. It will be interesting to see if Boyd and Clemson can avoid the typical Clemson loss to a team they should beat to keep Boyd a Heisman front runner, and to keep the Tigers squarely in the race for Pasadena.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB/Louisville)
Teddy Bridgewater launched his Heisman campaign with a tremendous performance against Ohio on Sunday. Bridgewater, who could be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, threw for 355 yards on 23-of-28 passing, and had as many touchdowns (five) as incompletions. Still, with Louisville’s light schedule it will be interesting to see if Bridgewater can put up good enough numbers to offset the level of competition he will be up against.
Jameis Winston (QB/Florida State)
Jameis Winston lived up to the hype and then some on Monday night against Pittsburgh. In his first career start, on the road nonetheless, the redshirt freshman eviscerated the Panthers’ defense with a near perfect performance. Winston had five total touchdowns, four passing, and threw for 356 yards. He threw the ball 27 times, with Florida State head coach Jameis Winston showing his trust in the freshman, and threw only two incomplete passes. Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman last season, and Winston could make it back-to-back with more performances like this. Mark this date on your calendars: October 19th. That’s when Jameis Winston and the Seminoles travel to Death Valley to take on Tajh Body and Clemson.
Duke Johnson (RB/Miami, FL)
While the level of competition wasn’t great as Miami dominated lowly Florida Atlantic, it was still an impressive performance for the sophomore running back. Johnson ran the ball 19 times and amassed 186 yards and a touchdown on a 9.8 yards per carry average. He also caught a pass for 38 yards. The true test for Johnson will come next weekend as the Hurricanes host Florida. The Gators bring in a top-notch defense that will truly test Duke Johnson. He can make a big statement with a strong performance, or he could fall off the pace if he struggles.
Christion Jones (WR/Alabama)
Christion Jones became the first player since 2002 to score a touchdown offensively along with a punt and kick return touchdown. After Virginia Tech went three and out on the first drive of the game, Jones took the ensuing punt 72 yards for a touchdown. In the second quarter, after a Virginia Tech field goal that cut the Tide’s lead to 21-10, Jones took the kickoff 94 yards to the house. To cap off the game of his life, Jones caught a 38 yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron the third quarter to put the game on ice. It’s unlikely that Jones will be able to stay in the Heisman race for the long haul, but he deserves recognition for his otherworldly performance in week one.
Up Next: Just off the Pace