The first installment of our SEC Heisman Watch features two legitimate contenders and a couple darkhorses.
- Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: Talk about a triumphant start to a much-anticipated junior season. Gurley ran through, around and over Clemson in a one-sided border war dominated by the Bulldogs in the second half. His 188 rushing yards was a career-high and he added a 100-yard kickoff return for good measure.
- Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M: It’s hard to imagine a player in the SEC upstaging Hill’s 511-yard, three-touchdown effort at South Carolina, but Gurley’s four scores and school-record 293 all-purpose yards delivered by a smidge. Hill’s numbers should continue to rise with additional reps in Kevin Sumlin’s attack, especially now that he’s got a start under his belt and extreme confidence.
- T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s junior ballcarrier picked up where he left off with another 100-yard, multi-touchdown game. Derrick Henry also went over 100 yards, but it’s clear Yeldon will receive much of the early-season bulk in the Alabama backfield.
- Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn: Much like the pressure Kenny Hill faced as Johnny Manziel’s replacement, Artis-Payne passed his test as Tre Mason’s successor with flying colors. Artis-Payne averaged 6.8 yards per carry, scored a touchdown and rushed for a career-high 178 yards. It was a heckuva effort for a player in a battle with Corey Grant for top billing in a talented Auburn backfield.
- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: He may not have had the SEC’s best game at wideout (Auburn’s Duke Williams and Texas A&M’s Malcome Kennedy beg to differ), but Cooper has the name and his first game under the direction of Lane Kiffin included a career-high 12 catches. The speedy junior didn’t get into the end zone however, a necessity to be a serious Heisman threat as a wide receiver.
- Amarlo Herrera, LB, Georgia: This senior linebacker generated the most defensive buzz in the SEC, recording a league-high 12 tackles and two sacks. The Georgia defense looked the part under Jeremy Pruitt in the second half against 16th-ranked Clemson in a marquee matchup.