Matt Barkley, Montee Ball, Denard Robinson Among Heisman Trophy FavoritesThe Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious individual award in all of college football. To capture it, not only does one special player have to put up remarkable numbers, he has to be on a team that’s contending in the BCS and not have too many other teammates detracting attention.

If any of those factors are missing, the trophy finds another home.

For example, Alabama qualifies as a potential BCS contender but they won’t have a meal-ticket running back such as 2009 winner Mark Ingram or 2011
finalist Trent Richardson. The Crimson Tide will not pass the ball a lot this season and are not likely to get prolific numbers from signal caller A.J. McCarron. Because Alabama is such a central national championship threat, the Tide deserve to be seen as the kind of team that can provide a Heisman contender but their team makeup for 2012 is not conducive to yet another Heisman finalist.

On the flip side, Tyler Wilson, the dynamic quarterback at the University of Arkansas, has the toolbox of skills needed to compete for the Heisman
but his team might not be BCS-worthy enough to help his cause. He has to be seen as a primary contender but not having his longtime head coach, Bobby Petrino, will constrain him just enough to keep him a few notches from Heisman glory. Arkansas needs to make the national championship game for Wilson to win the award and that’s probably not going to happen in 2012.

Geno Smith will be one of the most exciting players in the nation but the West Virginia quarterback with NFL-grade athleticism will probably not be able to capture the Big 12 championship. That shortcoming (if it indeed emerges) will prevent Smith from grabbing this particularly prized trophy in American sports.

The majority of preseason love is going USC quarterback Matt Barkley‘s way. He stands a very good chance of being able to beat Oregon in the regular season but when the Ducks and Trojans meet again in a likely Pac-12
Conference Championship Game, De’Anthony Thomas — in front of a big television audience that will include many last-minute Heisman voters –-  could very well have the final say.

Thomas is the most impressive skill-position athlete in college football. With LaMichael James in the NFL, Thomas will now be able to excel even more as a solo performer and avoid a split-vote nightmare situation. Barkley could also be in a similar position where his two elite receivers help or hurt him. A stellar season from Robert Woods and Marqise Lee could subtract a couple of Heisman votes away from Barkley.

Wisconsin’s record-setting running back Montee Ball should be in the mix but some off-field troubles and a weakened offensive line –- and offense overall — could hold him back. Oklahoma’s Landry Jones had a great first half last season but tailed off in the latter stages of 2011. If he can
replicate his first half and perform that way for a full season, he should be making the flight to New York with the finalists. Meanwhile, stalwarts Aaron Murray from Georgia and Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina could be players if they can lead their teams to the top of the
heap in the SEC.