ESPN’s Heisman straw poll has Marcus Mariota ranked first with 66 points and 8 first first-place votes from their 16-member panel, comprised of ESPN writers and network analysts including Rece Davis, Ted Miller, and Mark Schlabach. Johnny Manziel is second in their poll with 58 points and 4 first-place votes, followed by Tajh Boyd with 51 and 3. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater got one first-place vote and 25 total points. Aaron Murray is a distant fifth.
The highest-rated non-quarterback by the ESPN panel is Lache Seastrunk of Baylor, the former redshirt running back at Oregon. De’Anthony Thomas did not get a vote, but Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion and Bishop Sankey round out the poll.
At The Heisman Pundit, Chris Huston’s straw poll of 10 anonymous Heisman voters shakes out this way (first place votes in parenthesis):
1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 17 (5)
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — 12 (2)
3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia — 11 (2)
4. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson — 6
5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — 5 (1)
Nick Klopsis of newsday.com ranks the top five this way: Manziel, Mariota, Boyd, Bridgewater and Georgia running back Todd Gurley.
In Bovada.com’s Heisman odds, Mariota is an overwhelming favorite at 8/5, according to Adam Kramer of Kegs ‘N Eggs.
Mariota’s worthiness as a Heisman candidate can be argued or refuted. Statistically, he hasn’t had the season so far to equal what he did as a freshman. Currently he’s completing 56% of his passes. Conference rival Sean Mannion of Oregon State has 2,018 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and a 67.2 completion percentage. Of course, Mannion has a loss to Eastern Washington on his resume. Keith Price of Washington has 1044 yards passing, 9 touchdowns, two interceptions, 72.3% completions. He’ll step into a national spotlight if he beats Stanford Saturday and has a big game. Teammate Bishop Sankey has rushed for 607 yards, and a big day against The Cardinal defense makes him a legit Heisman contender. Down south, Brett Hundley of UCLA leads a 3-0, #12-ranked team with 66% passing, 848 yards, 8 tds, 3 interceptions, 157 yards on the ground.
All this cited because rarely does more than one candidate rise in the West, and a PAC-12 candidate has to be superb to capture a national award in a crowded race. Mariota and his conference rivals have the opportunity to settle this on the field. A clear frontrunner will emerge in October and November as these schools and their respective stars face each other.
One thing is certain: Mariota has the attention of the nation. As parenthetical as it is to his actual focus and singular goal, he has a legitimate opportunity to win Oregon’s first Heisman Trophy. He and his teammates are vastly more interested in hoisting another one.