With questions looming over Florida State QB Jameis Winston, who many consider the frontrunner to win this season's Heisman Trophy, we asked our panel: Who would be your pick to win the award if the season ended today?
Without knowing whether charges will be filed or dismissed against Jameis Winston, the voting for the Heisman might be all over the place. As a Heisman voter myself, I cannot reveal who's on my ballot until the winner is revealed, but let me just simply say that my ballot is blank right now. The candidates will play on in the next two weeks (of course, taking into account what they have already accomplished), and players from non-BCS or automatic-qualifying conferences are in the mix with me -- hello, Jordan Lynch and Derek Carr. The acknowledged front-running QBs are all obvious options, but how about Boston College RB Andre Williams, who already is over 2,000 yards against an ACC schedule in a throwing era? Players who have re-emerged, such as Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Braxton Miller of Ohio State should be in the hopper. Defensive players such as Ryan Shazier of Ohio State, Anthony Barr of UCLA, Trent Murphy of Stanford should be thought of, too. And will QB AJ McCarron of Alabama, a player in pursuit of his third national title who combines terrific on-field performance with and impeccable character, become the "people's choice" to avoid the controversy of recent winners such as Cam Newton, Reggie Bush and Johnny Manziel? Yes, it's a wide-open year, and I'm still waiting to see how the rest of the season shakes out.
My vote right now would have to go to Jameis Winston, but I think it would be a mistake if AJ McCarron didn't get consideration. When Alabama gets behind, which isn't often, it has been McCarron who has gotten it done. Problem is, Alabama is a run-first team, and McCarron is seen as something of a game manager. Let me tell you, he is not. He has next-level ability and has shown it when called upon. With three guys falling out of contention this past week, and with Winston facing potential felony charges, McCarron might be the last guy standing, and in my mind would be a worthy candidate. If I were a voter, I would wait until the last possible moment for more information on Winston. And even if nothing is resolved by the deadline, I still might go with McCarron because Winston has at least one more year to win it.
- Chase Goodbread College Football 24/7
It's Winston until further notice
Legal issues notwithstanding, Florida State's Jameis Winston remains the most deserving and obvious choice for the Heisman Trophy. Possible charges from a sexual-assault investigation may cost him some votes if unresolved at the time Heisman ballots come due, but unless the investigation produces a formal charge, Winston deserves the assumption of innocence. From a football standpoint, Winston's status as the Heisman frontrunner has been solidified in the wake of recent losing performances by Johnny Manziel, Bryce Petty and Marcus Mariota. If a formal charge does come from the Winston investigation, it is anybody's guess as to who wins.
- Dan Greenspan College Football 24/7
Arizona's Carey worthy of a vote
The Heisman Trophy is not supposed to be a plot point on an upcoming episode of "Law and Order: SVU," but unless Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is charged with a crime, he would be my pick for the most prestigious award in college football. The redshirt freshman has come up big in the biggest games, leads the nation in passing efficiency and is tied for third in the FBS with 32 touchdown passes. But if Winston were to somehow come out of the equation, it would be hard to argue with Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey as a viable replacement. Carey has rushed for 119 yards or more in every game this season, including 138 in a loss at USC against an outstanding defensive front seven (Boston College's Andre Williams had 38 yards on 17 carries against those same Trojans) and 206 in the upset win over Oregon.
- Mike Huguenin College Football 24/7
On the field, there's no debate
If the season ended today, I would pick Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Yes, he is part of a sexual-assault investigation, but he has not been charged. In addition, he hasn't played a bad game this season. You can't say that about any other candidates except Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch and Fresno State QB Derek Carr. But Winston has played a better schedule than those two. He is averaging 287.5 passing yards per game and has thrown 32 TD passes. He has four games with at least four TD passes and is tied for third nationally in TD passes. He has FSU on track for an appearance in the national championship game, too.