In all reality, not a single one of these players has a legitimate shot at winning the 2012 Heisman Trophy. But that doesn’t mean these guys don’t deserve some consideration.
How tough is it for the small-school stud to win the Heisman? Consider no one has won it from a non-BCS school since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990. In 1989, Houston’s Andre Ware won the honor. Those are your only two non-BCS winners in the modern era.
So don’t go off and bet any serious dough on any of these players, but here’s a quick lesson on why they are reasonable options for the Heisman.
Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio
Tettleton, the son of former Major Leaguer Mickey Tettleton, is so good he convinced an old-school coach like Frank Solich to go with a no-huddle offense.
Tettleton threw for 3,302 yards and 28 touchdowns in leading Ohio to a 10-4 record, including a win Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
He’s not Denard Robinson, but Tettleton is still a dual-threat guy. He rushed for 658 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore.
The Bobcats are considered the favorite in the Mid-American Conference, so if Tettleton can lead Ohio to its first conference championship since 1968 he might get a little bit of respect from the voters.
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
As the younger brother of former overall first pick David Carr, Derek at least has some name recognition. In his first season as the Bulldogs starter, Carr threw for 3,544 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Now he will be working out of a no-huddle, spread offense under new coach Tim DeRuyter. If Carr adjusts quickly to the new style he could easily improve on last year’s showing. If he struggles to adapt then Fresno’s move to the Mountain West could be rough.
Carr isn’t the only start on the Fresno offense either and that can both help and hurt. Running back Robbie Rouse is also a Heisman candidate.
Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan
We’re back to the MAC for Carder who is arguably the best quarterback in the league, and he’s looking to lead the Broncos to back-to-back bowl appearances.
Carder threw for 3,873 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2011, including five games that he eclipsed 400 passing yards. He even put up an incredible 548 yards and seven touchdowns in a wild 66-63 loss to Toledo.
If Carder is going to replicate his 2011 he’ll need to find some receivers. That won’t be easy since most of his top targets have graduated.
Zach Line, RB, SMU
Line has led all rushers in Conference USA the past two seasons and appears to be fully recovered from surgeries on his shoulder and foot.
At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Line is a bruising back who can punish defenders with his running style. He rushed for 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns while playing in just 10 of 13 SMU games. In 2010, Line rushed for 1,494 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Line will likely be overshadowed by Texas-transfer Garrett Gilbert, who will likely start at quarterback for June Jones. Gilbert’s performances as a Longhorn, though, don’t seem to warrant adding him to this list.
Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State
We’ve already touched on Derek Carr and now we consider the long-shot Heisman campaign of Rouse.
At 5-foot-7, Rouse is not an overwhelming force as a running back but he’s quick and could benefit from the different holes/lanes that open in the spread offense.
He rushed for 1,544 yards as a junior for an average of 118.8 a game. That’s not going to win you a Heisman, but you can see he has some skills.
Riley Nelson, QB, BYU
Nelson’s road to starting quarterback at BYU was definitely atypical.
He started his career at Utah State and after transferring it appeared he would sit behind big-time recruit Jake Heaps. Instead, Nelson became the consistent performer and Heaps transferred to Kansas.
Nelson is the definition of a “gamer.” He just loves to play football and he seems to love getting hit and delivering hits.
He could rack up enough passing and rushing yards to get some consideration for the Heisman.
Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech
Cameron is the ultimate long-shot.
He’s been the on-again, off-again starter for the Bulldogs since 2010, but this season the job is all his.
Playing in just seven games last season, Cameron completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 1,649 yards and 13 touchdowns. With a complete season at QB and a slew of experienced receivers, Cameron is set for a huge year against the WAC.