If the Oregon football team makes a run into the inaugural College Football Playoff, chances are that they’ll also be sending a player to New York for the Heisman ceremony in December. In fact, at least one of the teams competing in the national championship game during the BCS era has sent a player to the Heisman ceremony. The Ducks themselves sent LaMichael James to New York during their last run to the championship game.
It’s no secret that the Ducks possess a true Heisman frontrunner in Marcus Mariota, and that the Heisman Trust has a thing for quarterbacks. Still there are potentially a couple players who could receive invitations to the ceremony.
On the outside:
No matter how skilled these two players are, the committee’s patterns show that there is little to no chance that these players are invited.
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (300/1)
Oregon’s best defensive player is Ekpre-Olomu by a long shot. He’s the only returning starter from Oregon’s 2013 secondary. He skipped a trip to New York this May by staying in school instead of entering the NFL draft, but still don’t expect the shutdown corner to make the trip in December either for the Heisman ceremony.
The Heisman has been awarded to a cornerback before in Michigan’s Charles Woodson. The thing with Woodson though was that he was an excellent return man. Ekpre-Olomu doesn’t touch the ball on special teams enough to garner the extra attention needed for a cornerback to end up in New York.
TE Johnny Mundt (175/1)
Mundt is a wrecking ball plain and simple. The tight end emerged in 2013 after the supremely skilled Colt Lyerlia and the university parted ways and Pharaoh Brown went down with an injury. Tight ends have long been key contributors to Oregon’s spread attack, and there has never been a quarterback like Mariota running the ship so it makes sense that Mundt will be one of the most exciting sophomore tight ends in the country if he wins the starting job in the spring.
A tight end has never won the Heisman, but the position is becoming an offensive hybrid and even a glamorous position. In Oregon’s system the tight ends can find themselves in all kinds of roles from the backfield carrying to the rock to sprinting downfield to throw an open field block. It may not be this year or be Mundt, but the day that a tight end is invited to the ceremony is quickly approaching.
On the cusps:
These are the guys that have a moderate to good chance of being invited to New York.
WR/PR Bralon Addison (35/1)
Addison was the breakout Duck of the year in 2013. The junior found himself lining up opposite of fellow wide out Josh Huff on the field, as well as becoming a dynamite punt returner in 2013. He was so dominate that there was a two game stretch against Colorado and Washington he put up 315 receiving yards and four touchdowns. With Huff gone, Addison will be looked at as Mariota’s primary target.
It’s not likely that a WR wins a Heisman with only three WRs having won the award, but an invitation is not out of the question at all if Addison can produce at an extraordinary pace. He’ll need to also up the ante in his punt return game as well. Still, if Addison is a key cog in Oregon’s offense the statistics will speak in volumes, and the Heisman voters love numbers from players on the nation’s top teams.
HB Bryon Marshall (30/1) or HB Thomas Tyner (18/1)
Tyner is an interesting choice to be such a heavy favorite. His success largely depends if he can win the outright starting job from 2013’s returning rusher Byron Marshall, or at least manage to get the majority of the carries. Tyner is an absolute stud combining speed and strength not seen in the Oregon backfield since Jonathan Stewart. If Marshall can hold onto the starting role he too becomes a favorite to make it to New York, but in all likelihood the rock will be split or Tyner will win the job.
It’s no secret that an outright starting HB at Oregon would receive major looks by the Heisman Trust. LaMichael James got an invitation after a fantastic sophomore season, and it could be very likely Tyner would also receive an invitation as well if he can flirt with 2,000 yards on the ground. Marshall isn’t as dynamic as Tyner, but if given the workload he too could receive an invitation.
Book the flight:
To say there was a Duck more likely to receive an invitation than offensive virtuoso Marcus Mariota would be a downright lie.
QB Marcus Mariota (1/1)
There is only one question mark when it comes to Mariota’s likelihood of being invited to the ceremony: his health. If Mariota is healthy not only is he the team’s favorite to send to New York, but he’s the favorite in the entire country to win the award. He would have been invited in 2013 if his knees held up, and Oregon would have… well that’s a story for another day.
Mariota is among the top three players in the entire nation entering 2014. Quarterback is the most likely position to win the award and receive nominations. His main competition nationally for the award is Florida State’s defending Heisman winner Jameis Winston. The Heisman Trust has shown a knack against voting for repeat winners when the opportunity presents itself.
If you’re into safe bets than there isn’t a safer bet on paper than predicting Mariota to receive a nomination to go to the Heisman ceremony in New York.