Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The first month of the 2008 college football season is almost over, and if the Heisman Trophy was awarded at the end of September, the likely candidates making their way to New York City could very well all be quarterbacks. In looking at the Heisman race after four weeks, here are the top signal-callers making the grade:
CHASE DANIEL: A finalist for last year's award, Daniel seems to be distancing himself from the rest of the field early on. Sure, the Tigers haven't played any real opponents, outside of the season-opening win over Illinois, but Missouri's diminutive signal-caller has been huge in September, with a 193.4 passer rating. Daniel has completed 75.9 percent of his passes for 1,412 yards, with 12 TDs
and just one INT. Last week against Buffalo, Daniel completed a Big 12 record 20 straight passes and finished the game 36-of-43, for 439 yards and a pair of scores. Things will get much tougher with the Big 12 slate getting underway, but Daniel is the leader of the pack right now.
Chase Daniel is the early favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
SAM BRADFORD: Could a second straight sophomore win the Heisman? It is a definite possibility with the way Oklahoma's young gunslinger is playing right now. Bradford hasn't come out of nowhere, following last year's successful freshman campaign, but he has turned it up a notch this season. In three games, Bradford boasts of a ridiculous 214.4 passer rating (second in the nation), completing 79 percent of his passes, for 882 yards, with 12 TDs and two interceptions. Bradford won't be disappearing from the Heisman list anytime soon, as he is the central figure on an Oklahoma team that should find its way into the national title picture when all the smoke clears.
MAX HALL: The one strike against Hall is that he plays in the Mountain West. However, if BYU keeps destroying the opposition, he may just make voters take notice. The Cougars are making national headlines with each lopsided win and if that continues, Hall will certainly be one of the main reasons for it. He has passed for 1,284 yards in the first four games, with a whopping 15 touchdowns, seven of which came in a 59-0 whitewashing of UCLA. He didn't exactly light up the sky against Wyoming last week, but he did add to his TD total with three more scores. That kind of pace could put Hall in a spot to take home a lot of hardware at season's end.
MARK SANCHEZ: The Trojans are loaded with NFL-caliber talent and Sanchez is definitely part of that group. Despite suffering a knee injury late in the summer, USC's field general has shown no ill-effects from the injury and has looked sharp in a pair of wins this year. It certainly doesn't hurt his chances that he threw four TD passes in the big win over Ohio State a couple of weeks ago. He's on the nation's top team and his supporting cast will help him in his quest for Heisman consideration. In two games thus far, Sanchez has completed almost 70 percent of his passes for 510 yards with seven TDs. Pete Carroll's squad should face little resistance in earning its seventh consecutive Pac-10 crown and if that happens, a spot in the BCS title game will probably be warranted. Getting that kind of national exposure each week will burn Sanchez and his efforts into the brains of the Heisman voters.
GRAHAM HARRELL: Is he just another big-numbers guy in a gimmick system? Who cares. Harrell has not just put up big numbers, but rather enormous ones. In 2006, Harrell threw for 4,555 yards and 38 TDs. He followed that up with 5,705 yards and 48 TDs last year. In the early going, he seems to be on a fast pace again, completing just under 65 percent of his throws for 1,573 yards and 12 TDs. Passing the ball on first, second and third downs will keep Harrell among the nation's leaders in passing, and could very well earn him a trip to the Big Apple when the Heisman is awarded.
TIM TEBOW: Last year's winner isn't exactly putting up the kind of numbers that warrant a second straight Heisman yet, but there probably isn't a better quarterback in the nation in terms of managing a game. His numbers are modest to say the least (489 yards passing, five TDs, 118 yards rushing), but if Florida is to earn an SEC title and play for the national title, those numbers will balloon in a hurry. He's a long-shot at best right now, but any Heisman talk has to include Tebow, doesn't it?