In the history of the Heisman Memorial Trophy, only two colleges have had back-to-back Heisman winners — in 1945 and 1946 by Army with fullback Doc Blanchard and running back Glenn Davis winning the award. Then 28 years later when Ohio State running back Archie Griffin won the award twice in 1974 and 1975. Coming off Marcus Mariota’s Heisman Trophy season, could Oregon be the third school to have back-to-back Heisman winners?
Should Oregon happen to have a player in the mix for the award, the general consensus is that it will be Royce Freeman. After taking the lead role from Thomas Tyner last year, Freeman racked up nearly 1,400 yards on the ground with 18 TDs. Although Oregon has a very deep stable of running backs going into next season, Freeman will be the main running back for arguably the best rushing attack in the NCAA.
Along with Freeman getting the lion’s share of carries, Oregon will be more focused on the run as life without Mariota begins. Even though they have a talented and deep group of receivers, you have to think that Mark Helfrich and Co. will look to use the run game as the backbone of next season’s offense. The idea that Freeman will have a great season is becoming popular, with Odds Shark.com having Freeman in the top 20 for Heisman candidates. It should also be noted that Freeman is the only Oregon player on its list of Heisman candidates.
However, there is a Heisman dark horse who also plays for the Oregon Ducks, Vernon Adams. Some critics predicted him as a long-shot candidate last season when he played for Eastern Washington, an FCS team. Lost Letterman.com even ran an article last year, detailing five reasons why Adams should be a Heisman candidate, who would be the first FCS Heisman candidate since Steve McNair. At a school like Oregon, Adams will be given the chance to validate his merit to everyone who found him worthy of a ticket to New York.
Getting his chance to step-up to the FBS game means that Adams will have to prove he wasn’t simply a big fish in a small pond. He was a star in Cheney for three seasons, scoring 121 TDs, passing and running for more than 10,000 yards. Many people believe Adams will succeed at Oregon, in large part because of how well he played in games against Oregon’s bitter rivals, Washington and Oregon State. Of course, before Adams gets a shot to destroy those two teams as a Duck, he will have to win the starting job.
Despite being at a disadvantage from a familiarity standpoint, Adams has more game experience than fellow Duck, Jeff Lockie. In addition, if he truly is the dynamic player and potential Heisman winner that we think he is, then he should have no problem winning the job. With the sheer amount of talent surrounding him on offense, Adams may have less trouble performing in games than he will for defeating Lockie in camp.
In the end, Oregon has two players who could easily wind up being Heisman Trophy finalists in this upcoming season. Even though Oregon could become the third school to have back-to-back Heisman winners, it also means that we should be in for an amazing season.
At last, the fact we have two players being talked about as Heisman candidates speaks volumes about the quality of the team. With a star running back, quarterback, and the deepest receiving corps we’ve had in years, it’s a great time to be a Duck.
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