Five SEC Heisman darkhorses to watch in 2014

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Heisman Pundit released his post-spring Heisman favorites, and seven SEC players made the list.

It included six running backs – Alex Collins, Mike Davis, Todd Gurley, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Williams and TJ Yeldon – and one quarterback in Nick Marshall. Those are the frontrunners and players who will continue to get the most media love, but let’s talk about some darkhorse candidates who could jump into the discussion during the season.

Here are a few players who could jump into the discussion, including four quarterbacks and one running back:

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn: Much like Tre Mason last year, Auburn’s featured running back will get enough carries to be in the national conversation, especially if the Tigers make another serious run at a championship. CAP showed this spring he’s ready to be the everyday and every-down back in college football’s most dominant rushing attack. He rushed for 610 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Jacob Coker, QB, Alabama: Am I guilty of helping put the enormous hype and pressure on Coker? The fact is Alabama’s offense is loaded, and several quarterbacks in the country could benefit by stepping into this situation. AJ McCarron was a Heisman finalist last year and won the Maxwell Player of the Year Award. Maybe it won’t happen and maybe he’s over-hyped, but the stage is set for Coker to instantly have success in Lane Kiffin’s offense.

Hutson Mason, QB, Georgia: In a similar situation as Jacob Coker, Hutson Mason is stepping into a beautiful situation. Granted, if UGA makes a run, Todd Gurley will almost have to be healthy and very much a factor in the Heisman race. But if Gurley can’t stay healthy and Mason leads Georgia to an SEC Championship, there’s a shot. The receivers are loaded, as is the backfield. The best thing for Mason is he doesn’t have to be Aaron Murray; he can be himself and distribute the ball efficiently, effectively and turnover free.

Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri: Maybe my favorite candidate on the darkhorse list, Mauktober is about to take over Columbia, Missouri. He plays wild and with a reckless abandon. Last year’s 11 touchdowns flashed enormous player upside and the potential for the Mizzou offense to reach a new level. Although Mauk will have to find a go-to receiver, a steady running game will help anchor the offense. He’s a bit of a gunslinger, and for that I love him.

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: The stage is set for Dak Prescott to live up to the hype. With arguably the conference’s most favorable slate, Prescott should have big games against non-conferences foes. Every unit around Prescott is loaded with depth and impact players, and Dan Mullen’s offense has already produced a Heisman winner in Tim Tebow. Could Prescott become better than Tebow? Did I just go there? He combined for 2,769 yards and 23 touchdowns last year.

Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • The two best candidates on this list already have a system near top form to collect statistics from day one, Mauk and Payne. The only question, “can these teams get better at what they do”? Are you reading this Josh Henson and Dave Steckel? We can be sure that the other leaguers are hoping to stop a couple of last years playbook selections. We could have two totally new names in the SEC championship game but there is better reason than ever to think Missouri and Auburn could repeat.

    • Most long-time SEC followers would probably scoff at you saying Mizzou had a chance to repeat as the East entrant again. Most of the very early polls for the SEC have guessed Mizzou would finish this coming ’14 season behind S.Caro, Georgia, Florida and (amazingly) Tenn! (C’mon now, haven’t we done this dance before?) Tigers get Georgia at home, very winnable…and go to Gamecocks, Gators & Vols turf. Florida & Tenn, even on the road, are not going to scare Mauk & Company one bit. As for the S.Carolina game, easily the toughest & biggest game on Zou’s docket, that is in essence a payback game from last year for Tigers, plus, no more Connor “ralley the troops” Shaw! If Mauk stays healthy & at least one receiver & one RB steps up strong, Tigers can repeat as East champs.

  • I guess everyone is still underestimating Bo Wallace and Ole Miss. Wallace is the top QB in the SEC coming back this season. He threw for over 3,000 yards last season even though his arm and shoulder was injured. This season he will be fully healthy. He will probably have the best WR corp in the SEC if not the country. Plus plenty of talented RB’s to hand the ball off to. He is working this summer with a QB guru to help continue to cut down on his INT’s. Wallace is the most experienced and complete QB in the SEC, so not having him on this list is a joke to me. Ole Miss will have a top 15 team when the season is over, so he will be on a good team.

    • Like it! Bo Wallace is a solid darkhorse candidate. He’s proven he can put up some numbers, and Ole Miss should be a good team. Can easily justify Wallace for sure.

      • Don’t like it. Too many picks, not enough upside. Feel like Ole Miss fans love Wallace until the season starts haha

      • Thanks Cooper. I know I might be a little bias, but anyone that watches Ole Miss games knows what he is capable of. The only thing that has really hurt him is is INTs. He cut them way down last year from 17 i believe to 10. He only had 6 int’s going into the last couple of games. By then his arm was jello and he had the flu for the Mizzou game. I know those are excuses, but I believe this year he should really have a huge year. His OL is going to be better, he’s going on of the top receiving corps in the country, and plenty of reliable RBs to hand off to. The offense should also have a lot more possessions because of how good the Ole Miss defense is going to be. So that should all add up to Wallace putting up huge numbers. Of course there could always be injuries and other things happen. But right now, things look really bright for Wallace.

        • How is he the top QB in the SEC? Because the last time i checked I seen where alot of ppl had Nick and Dak ahead of him!! Oh you must be talking about being on top when it comes to INT and being face down in the TOP DOG EndZone

        • Here come those high class, well educated State fans and their name calling and low brow hate. Poor guys. Where can I make a scholarship donation on Dak’s name? Lol.

  • How the heck does Bo no throw keep popping up???? He will not even be starting by the third game. Why do you think Freeze went after so many QB”s. I will tell you why … Bo lacks leadership , he tries to do his own thing instead of following the game plan. It don’t matter if you can throw the ball a country mile if the team don’t believe in you. This is not hear say from some web site it’s from the players.

    • Bug, your an idiot plan and simple. Your just another MSU fan that loves to follow Ole Miss. You have no clue what the hell your talking about. I realize that MSU fans are very smart, but come on, is there anything a MSU won’t say?

      • Oh the irony of this statement. I bet MSU teaches them proper English and grammar.

        “Bug, your an idiot plan and simple. Your just another MSU fan that loves to follow Ole Miss. You have no clue what the hell your talking about. I realize that MSU fans are very smart”

      • Uh, no guy. Bug is just another State fan that like to hate ole miss, just like me. Wallace isn’t bad, but he’s no Dak.

      • You manning u blue bloods who think your team is so special just don’t get it that ole miss has got to play the games. To hear you and col reb talk they just hand them to sec championship. Well, check back in 6 or 8 games in and let’s see how that’s working out for you. MSU has it issues where they will have to beat some other teams in the west besides ole miss to take the next step but to crown ole miss champs without playing the games is a little bit out there. Ole miss going 8/5 last year was s step in the right direction but doesn’t make them champs

    • I’d much rather have Bo than Dak. I don’t see how Prescott is getting any love. He hasn’t beaten anyone. His best win came against Ole Miss, and that’s not saying much for them. State has a rich history of not doing much of anything against ranked opponents, and that won’t change this year. He’ll go the way of Tyler Russell. That cowbell noise must’ve given yall brain damage.

      • Shouldn’t your name be blackbear404? Dak is twice…I’m sorry, that’s incorrect…three times the quarterback bo frikkin wallace is.

      • lmao really? thats the comment you are going to use to make a case about Dak being a overrated QB?!?!?!? I bet you dont recall Bo’s face being face down in our Endzone with 4 turn overs going next to his name in the state book do you? Get out of here with that!!!! Dak still has some growing to do but his 1st year he done more than Bo has the last 2 years and that’s being a good QB!!!!

      • Another sorry Old Myth fan that accept the fact that we have a superior QB and overall team. Dak Prescott was like 40% and hadn’t put on pads in 2 weeks when he came on in the 4th and single-handedly kicked your guys’ butts. We’ll achieve double-digit wins and beat Ole Miss again this season. Sorry, but we’re just better like that. Hail State.

        • Again, all that cowbell noise has given yall brain damage. Lol. Fail State (as usual)

      • Again, check back in November and we’ll check the stats and records and see if you would rather have Bo instead of Dak.