If you did not know his name before Thursday, you undoubtedly know it now. Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill put on quite the show in his debut as the starting quarterback in the post-Johnny Manziel era in College Station. Hill took just one game to start rewriting the record book for the Aggies with a blowout win on the road at South Carolina. As a result, Hill has become the new hot name in the early goings of the Heisman Trophy race.
It is just for that reason that we should proceed with caution when evaluating Heisman contenders. The Heisman race can often be swayed by the moment, which is why Hill got off to such a wild start in the Heisman mix out of nowhere. He was not even on the board in Las Vegas before Thursday, but before the night was done, his name was given respectable odds to take home the stiff-arm trophy. Can Texas A&M score a second Heisman Trophy in three years with a quarterback coming out of nowhere? History would suggest no. This is still going to be a long season for the Aggies and the rest of the college football world.
The opening of a new college football season proved Hill is still not to be considered the favorite despite being the first to take the stage. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston provided an early signature Heisman moment in leading the Seminoles to a win over Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas. Winston took off running, dodged one would-be tackler and leaped over one of his own linemen on the ground on his way to the end zone. It was a reminder of why Winston won the Heisman Trophy in 2013 and may still be the best player in the country.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley came into the season as one of the players to watch, perhaps having the best chance to win the Heisman from the non-quarterback pack. His performance to help Georgia run away with a victory against Clemson was nothing short of amazing. He even added a 100-yard kickoff return to tack on to his rushing production, which was too overpowering for Clemson’s beleaguered defense.
The opening weekend of the season was also a solid one for some of the other favorites in the Heisman race, like quarterbacks Marcus Mariota (Oregon) and Bryce Petty (Baylor) and running back Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska). It was less than superior for others, like UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley or Miami running back Duke Johnson. The good news is that the season is still fresh and there are plenty of opportunities ahead for all.
Remember, sometimes what you do in November is much more valuable to a Heisman campaign than what you do in August or early September.
Weekly Heisman Trophy Spotlight Game: Oregon vs. Michigan State
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will have a chance to dazzle this weekend at home against Michigan State. Mariota needs to show he is capable of leading Oregon to a victory against a team that plays a physical defensive style. Mariota and Oregon have been stymied by Stanford’s defense before, and Michigan State is every bit as good as the Cardinal on defense, if not better. An early-season victory over a top 10 team of this nature could keep Mariota atop the Heisman pecking order.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.