Early Season Heisman Top 5

Here's the CLA Breakdown of Week One Heisman Performances

Now that the first week of the 2012 college football season is in the books, the debate for the Heisman can take form. Preseason hopefuls like Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson struggled against defending national champion Alabama’s suffocating defense in a 41-14 rout at Cowboys Stadium. Other favorites performed as expected . Players stock will potentially rise and fall from week to week but there are five players CLA believes will lead the way as the race unfolds.

1. Matt Barkley (USC, QB)

USC senior quarterback Matt Barkley came into the season as the heavy favorite to take the Heisman trophy. It took just one play for Barkley to show why. Barkley connected with former Gardena Serra wideout Marquis Lee on a 75-yard touchdown pass to on the first play of the game against Hawaii.

Barkley continued to sling the ball around and finished the contest with 372 passing yards and four touchdowns. CLA believes that Barkley will put up quality performances on a consistent basis and have his team in position for a national championship.

2. De’Anthony Thomas (Oregon, RB)

Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas makes the most of his opportunities. On only seven offensive touches, Thomas hit pay dirt for three first half touchdowns in the Ducks blowout victory over Arkansas St. The Ducks fast break up-tempo offense combined with the Black Mamba’s speed and explosiveness make a lethal combo.

Thomas may not get as many touches as most Heisman favorites but his game-breaking ability will provide for many defining Heisman moments which could make the difference in enough voters minds.

3. Marquis Lee (USC, WR)

Fellow USC standout Marquis Lee displayed his incredible playmaking ability against Hawaii with a 100-yard kick return. Lee finished added 10 catches for 197 yards, including that 75-yard score on the opening snap.

With his return ability, Lee figures to compile a boat load of all-purpose yardage and find the end zone for the USC on a weekly basis.

The Trojans high national ranking and championship aspirations should benefit his candidacy and help Lee become the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.

4. Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina, RB)

In his first game back since a torn left ACL, South Carolina workhorse running back Marcus Lattimore ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in the Gamecocks 17-13 conference road win over Vanderbilt. Despite losing a fumble on his first carry, Lattimore displayed the same kind of production he did before the injury.

South Carolina’s struggles in the passing game means the Gamecocks will need a heavy dose of Lattimore to achieve success. With several ranked opponents on the schedule, Lattimore will have many nationally televised games to make his mark and claim the Heisman.

5. Geno Smith (West Virginia, QB)

One of the most impressive early season performances came from West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith who led the Mountaineers to a blowout victory over in-state rival Marshall. Smith went 32 for 36 for 323 yards and four touchdowns. The dual-threat quarterback added 65 yards on the ground, including a 28-yard scamper for six.

With the Mountaineers entering the Big 12 and their sub par pass defenses, it is very likely that Smith will continue to put up video game numbers for the entire season and warrant consideration for the Heisman.