Here Are The 10 Players Primed To Compete For Next Season's Heisman Trophy

Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina

Photo: Getty Images/Streeter Lecka

Now that you’ve had two days to digest Alabama’s second straight national title, it’s time to start thinking about next season.Who will threaten to win the Heisman Trophy?

It’s probably too early considering Johnny Manziel was on no one’s radar entering the season, but there’s already a strong crop of players nipping at his heels to try and keep him from winning his second trophy in 2013.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M Quarterback

Johnny Football was incredible in the Aggies upset of Alabama and mesmerized fans in a blowout win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. He was amazing in his freshman season, finishing with more than 5,000 yards of total offence on the season.

He's clearly the frontrunner heading into next season, but his candidacy could be hampered by massive expectations. Ohio State's Archie Griffin was the only two-time winner of the Heisman in 1974 and 1975.

AJ McCarron, Alabama Crimson Tide Quarterback

There's something to be said for efficiency. McCarron led the nation with a 175.3 quarterback rating in his junior season, and played arguably the best game of his career in the BCS Championship against Notre Dame.

If McCarron continues to develop and is able to guide the Crimson Tide to a third straight national title game, he'll be impossible to ignore.

Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina Gamecocks Defensive End

Clowney has made it his goal to make it to New York as a Heisman finalist next season, which is a frightening thought for opposing offenses.

Clowney finished the season with 13 sacks (tied for third in the nation), 54 tackles and one of the scariest hits of all time against Michigan in the Outback Bowl. He could be the one defensive player to garner consideration next season.

Braxton Miller, Ohio State Quarterback

The Buckeyes missed out on a chance to play for a national title, but none of the current players were to blame. Especially Miller. The sophomore quarterback led the team to an undefeated record, but sanctions prohibited the team from playing in a bowl game. That won't be the case next season.

Miller is one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation, collecting 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, but he'll need to improve his passing if he wants to lift the Trophy.

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Cardinals Quarterback

Bridgewater was touted as a Heisman darkhorse all season long, but it wasn't until Louisville's improbable upset of Florida in the Sugar Bowl that he got the whole nation's attention.

Bridgewater and the Cardinals are expected to start the season in the top half of the Top 25 and if he can build on his 3,718 yards and 28 touchdowns he'll earn even more recognition next year.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks Quarterback

Johnny Football wasn't the only freshman quarterback to find huge success this season. Mariota captained the explosive Ducks offence to a 12-1 record and had impressive stats to match, he was simply overlooked.

Mariota was just a shade under Geno Smith in passing efficiency (163.2) and threw 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions. It was tough to compete with Manziel this year, but if Mariota can pick up where he left off this season and guide the Ducks to the title game, he'll be in the thick of the Heisman discussion.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson Tigers Quarterback

Boyd announced he would be staying at Clemson for his senior season on Wednesday. And why not?

Boyd set an ACC record for most touchdown passes (36) this season, his 48 passes completions for more than 25 yards were the best in the nation, dynamic receiver Sammy Watkins will be back and the explosive DeAndre Hopkins should be too. He'll be a darkhorse to keep an eye on.

Aaron Murray, Georgia Bulldogs Quarterback

Murray was five yards away from leading the Bulldogs to the national championship game, but they simply ran out of time. The Heisman could come down to the SEC's trio of Murray, Manziel and McCarron.

Murray had a stellar year, leading the nation in yards per attempt (10.2) and breaking the SEC touchdown record. If he can get Georgia over the hump, Murray will likely be in the discussion at year's end.

De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon Running Back

Thomas started the 2012 season on an absolute tear before relinquishing most of the rushing responsibility to KenJon Barner. He scored seven touchdowns in the Ducks' first three games despite only touching the ball 24 times.

With Barner gone, Thomas gets the keys to the car and will be faced with the task of continuing the Ducks' strong running tradition. Oregon finished third in the nation in rushing this season, running for an astounding 315.2 yards per game. He's fully capable.

Marqise Lee, USC Trojans Wide Receiver

A substandard year from Matt Barkley didn't stop Lee from putting together one of the best all-around years by a wide receiver. Lee led the nation in receptions (118), finished second in yards gained (1,721) and third in touchdown receptions (14).

Lee was a threat all over for the Trojans, amassing 856 yards and a touchdown on 30 kick returns. If he can find success with a new quarterback and continue his dominance in the return game he could sneak into the discussion.

Now check out the best moments from the final game of the 2012 season.

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