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Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2010 stats: 35 TDs (3 rushing), 8 INTs, 3,338 passing yards, & 453 rushing yards.
Why he’ll win: Because he’s a beast. Because he’s the frontrunner. Because he’s a future No. 1 overall pick. Because he’s the best college QB since Peyton Manning.
Why he won’t: Is Stanford Rose Bowl bound or Holiday Bowl bound? If the answer is the latter, Luck’s Heisman candidacy will have a major roadblock to bypass. Will Jim Harbaugh’s departure significantly affect Luck’s play in 2011?
Prediction: Luck plays well in 2011 and puts an exclamation point on the No. 1 overall pick in 2012. However, the Cardinals don’t make it back to the BCS and a debate ensues about his Heisman candidacy.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
2010 stats: 39 TDs (1 rushing), 12 INTs, & 4,718 passing yards.
Why he’ll win: Oklahoma is No. 1 in the polls and expects to contend for a national championship. Bob Stoops runs a pass friendly offense that allows QBs to rack up major stats. In other words, all he has to do is follow Sam Bradford’s trail.
Why he won’t: The Big 12 is better than people think and the Sooners will have a tough time going unbeaten. There is a ton of pressure on the preseason No. 1 to live up to the hype and most of the time, the preseason No. 1 falters much like Alabama did in 2010.
Prediction: An early September win over Florida State makes Jones and the Sooners the talk of college football. However, the Sooners lose their regular-season finale in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. As a result, Heisman voters have to rethink their stance on Jones vs. Luck.
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
2010 stats: 36 TDs (1 rushing), 6 INTs, & 3,845 passing yards.
Why he’ll win: Boise State is once again a national story and their quest to play for the BCS championship will have the country on edge. In addition, Moore is the most efficient passer in college football and throws 30-plus TDs and five or fewer INTs.
Why he won’t: Most likely, the Broncos have to run the table and play in the BCS championship in order for Moore to win the Heisman. That’s a tall order for anyone, especially somebody playing for a non-automatic qualifier.
Prediction: The Broncos open the season with a win against an improving Georgia squad. All eyes are on Boise State heading into a matchup with TCU on November 5 and the Broncos deliver setting their sights on the BCS. However, their run is short lived as San Diego State upsets the Broncos the following week, and derails Moore’s Heisman aspirations.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
2010 stats: 32 TDs, (14 rushing), 11 INTs, 2,570 passing yards, & 1,702 rushing yards.
Why he’ll win: Michigan defies the experts and wins the Big Ten in Brady Hoke’s first season as head coach. Leading the way is Robinson, who makes a smooth transition from a spread offense to a more conventional pro-style attack.
Why he won’t: Because the experts got it right and Robinson doesn’t fit a pro-style offense. Michigan is a middle of the road Big Ten team unable to compete with Nebraska, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.
Prediction: Robinson is the most elusive QB in college football and he's exciting to watch. Like last season, he’ll put up major numbers, but his team won’t do anything in the Big Ten, which is why he has no chance of winning the Heisman.
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
2010 stats: 22 TDs (12 rushing), 7 INTs, 1,631 passing yards, & 965 rushing yards.
Why he’ll win: Nebraska is already a Big Ten frontrunner and leading the Cornhuskers to victory in the first Big Ten Championship game is sure to ignite debate about a number of topics. The conference’s prestige and Martinez as a Heisman contender leads the way.
Why he won’t: Frankly, Martinez is not that much of a passer, so he’ll have pedestrian passing numbers compared to Luck and Jones. Can you really award Martinez the Heisman when it’s obvious he’s not the best player at his position?
Prediction: He might be a long shot, but Nebraska’s success will create a buzz around Martinez, especially if he plays well. In fact, I think Martinez will gain more traction than Robinson will because his team will be relevant. Nevertheless, he’s not winning the Heisman in 2011.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
2010 stats: 30 TDs (8 rushing), 8 INTs, 3,501 passing yards, & 635 rushing yards.
Why he’ll win: The national media finally comes to its senses and realizes Griffin has made Baylor competitive.
Why he won’t: It’s still Baylor.
Prediction: Griffin may get an invite to New York for the Heisman trophy ceremony because his numbers will be staggering. That's as close as he’ll get to winning the prestigious award, however. This field is too deep and Baylor isn't on national television enough.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
2010 stats: 1,939 total yards & 24 TDs (3 receiving).
Why he’ll win: Oregon features the most explosive offense in college football and James is their best player. Last year, he was a legitimate Heisman contender, as the Ducks reached the national championship game for the first time in school history. Heisman voters will have a difficult time rewarding the trophy to someone else if history repeats itself.
Why he won’t: On the field, James is probably the preseason candidate best position to win the Heisman trophy. The Ducks remain the strongest of the now Pac-12 teams and their prime for another run at the national title. Off the field, allegations of recruiting violations could shine a negative spotlight on the program.
Prediction: The Ducks roll through the Pac-12 as they did a year ago and meet Utah in the conference championship game. James puts on a clinic and emerges as one of three viable Heisman candidates.
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
2010 stats: 966 total yards & 10 TDs (4 receiving).
Why he’ll win: Richardson is now the feature RB in the Alabama offense after sharing responsibilities with Mark Ingram in 2010. Look for the junior RB to have a monstrous season playing for one of the best coaches and programs in college football.
Why he won’t: The no holds barred mentality of the SEC makes it one of the more difficult conferences to predict on a yearly basis. I think it’ll be Alabama vs. Oregon for the national title, but I could see LSU and South Carolina in the big game just as easily. Not to mention Florida and Georgia are going to bounce back after last year’s debacles.
Prediction: The conference championship comes down to Alabama and South Carolina. The winner is basically guaranteed a spot in the national championship. Who wins? Right now, I would pick the Crimson Tide, but I reserve the right to change my mind in early December.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
2010 stats: 1,609 total yards & 19 touchdowns (2 receiving).
Why he’ll win: Lattimore’s the most talented college RB since Adrian Peterson and South Carolina is a sneaky pick to win the national championship.
Why he won’t: The SEC can build you up one day and tear you down the next. Simply put, Lattimore and the Gamecocks could just as easily disappoint as they could contend for the national title or Heisman trophy.
Prediction: Alabama vs. South Carolina. Richardson vs. Lattimore. I want to see it happen. I think it’ll happen. It certainly has all the makings of a classic and a Heisman moment could seal the deal for one of the two star RBs.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
2010 stats: 111 receptions, 1,782 receiving yards & 21 TDs (1 rushing).
Why he’ll win: Heisman voters finally recognize the importance of the WR position, as Oklahoma State wins the Big 12.
Why he won’t: Heisman voters continue to overlook the WR position, as Oklahoma State fails to live up to its lofty preseason expectations.
Prediction: The Cowboys have a great season in a very competitive Big 12. The highlight is an upset win over Oklahoma in early December. However, a 10-win season is only good enough to tie for second place in the Big 12. Blackmon, as a result, fails to gain any Heisman momentum.