ESPN released their initial Heisman watch for the 2014 season on Thursday. Marcus Mariota has received the most first place votes with six. Mariota also garnered the other four second place votes. Reigning Heisman winner, Jameis Winston captured the remaining four first place votes, while receiving five second place votes and a fourth place vote.
Out of the top nine, there are exactly zero freshman on the list. Therefore, none of the ESPN panelists decided Leonard Fournette was worth of consideration at this point in time. However, he may end up being the best running in the country by the time October rolls around. The last two Heisman winners have been freshman.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley received the third most votes, along with Braxton Miller. As he did in his first two seasons, Gurley will likely split the running back carries with a plethora of talented Bulldogs’ running backs.
Braxton Miller is the only senior in the top five on ESPN’s list. He’ll be the focal point of the Buckeyes’ offense for the third straight year, but this time he must remain healthy for a full season if he has any chance to win the Heisman.
Another junior quarterback in the PAC-12 that will be in the thick of the Heisman race is UCLA’s Brett Hundley. He received 12 total points by the ESPN voters.
Baylor’s Bryce Petty is expecting to have another tremendous season, so his appearance on the list is not surprise. The Baylor Bears have done a lot of firsts in recent years, so Petty is looking for become their second Heisman winner, while taking Baylor to a Big 12 title.
The final three players on the getting votes list are all running backs. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon will finally be the main guy for the Badgers. He received a couple of fourth and fifth place votes.
Miami’s Duke Johnson is coming back from a horrific season ending injury in 2013, so his inclusion is a little surprising. If Johnson is back to full strength during the games, he’ll be one of the best all-purpose backs in the league.
T.J. Yeldon also received a vote by ESPN, but he might not be the best running back on his own team. Yeldon’s Heisman hopes rest with his ability to not fumble. It’s simple for the junior running back. If he holds onto the ball, he will be huge for Alabama. If not, the Crimson Tide will have a host of other running backs to tote the rock, including Derrick Henry.