I'm not a voter, so this is simply playtime.
- Troy Smith, Ohio State - Gee, that was easy. Look, he wasn't the most jaw-dropping runaway candidate ever, but he played superbly well in the majority of his games, rarely made mistakes, and led the nation's top team without a hitch. He saved two of his better efforts for Texas and Michigan, throwing for a combined seven touchdowns against supposedly elite defenses. Congratulations ahead of time, Troy.
- Darren McFadden, Arkansas - Overcame the toe injury from that whole night club fight thing to have a special season. Is starting to be mentioned in the same breath as Bo Jackson and Hershel Walker so you know he's doing something right. Played quarterback towards the end of the season and was the heart and soul of his offense and the entire Arkansas team.
- Mike Hart, Michigan - Chad Henne's a nice hood ornament, but what drove that Michigan offensive engine this year was Michael Hart. If he had even a single bad game they wouldn't have gotten this far, nor shaken off the disappointment of last season. Hart was relentlessly competitive and carried a heavy burden on his stocky body. Somehow he thrived, and Michigan rallied behind his consistency.
Others I considered:
Colt Brennan, Hawai'i - I know people want to compare him to Ty Detmer and Andre Ware and Timmy Chang, but Colt's a little different. Those guys are mostly from another era when the gimmick offense was shiny and new and Chang simply didn't win like Brennan has. He also happens to be a legitimate NFL prospect. What it boils down to is that he punished defenses all year and propelled Hawai'i's second-half surge that put them into the postseason and within a few points of a one loss season.
Pat White, West Virginia - Steve Slaton is a special runner, but White makes that West Virginia offense hum. He was equally unstoppable and improved slightly as a passer this year. He caught fire in the middle of the season and had some real special efforts that went largely unnoticed. He may or may not make it as an NFL star, but he's a classic college star not unlike say, Oklahoma Heisman winner Jason White or Florida State Heisman winner Charlie Ward.
Colt McCoy, Texas - Was money once he had a few games under his belt. Is a tough SOB but some unfortunate injuries sidelined him, killing any Heisman shot.
What's interesting is the youth movement in this year's Heisman field. On my ballot there's but one senior (Troy Smith). Nationally the only other seniors of note are Brady Quinn and Chris Leak. Receivers Calvin Johnson and Dwayne Jarrett are juniors and likely headed to the NFL, same with California back Marshawn Lynch.