Roy Williams, WR, Texas
2002 Stats: 64 Catches, 1,142 yards (95.1 per game), 12 touchdowns
Williams has a good chance of being the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. Add that in with the fact that he is a star on a top-10 team, and you have a legitimate Heisman contender. Williams could have left after last season for the NFL and could have been a top-15 pick, but he decided on coming back to get another shot at the national title and the Heisman. A hamstring injury kept Williams at less than 100 percent in six of the Longhorns’ games last season, but he was nearly unstoppable when he was healthy. Since the Heisman has been given to successful teams in the past, if Texas can finally beat Oklahoma and get to the Sugar Bowl, you can bet on Williams being invited to the Yale Athletic Club.
Philip Rivers, QB, N.C. State
2002 Stats: 216-of-418 passing (52.8 percent), 3,353 yards, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
The four-year starter and family man – he already has a wife and kid – Rivers has had the N.C. State athletic department run his Heisman campaign since 2002. Quarterbacks have won the last three years, and Rivers could be the fourth as he and his Wolfpack are among the favorites to win to the last ACC Championship not involving Miami or Virginia Tech. His stats and all-around game will bring in media hype for the award. His maturity will help him not get overcome by it.
Cody Pickett, QB, Washington
2002 Stats: 365-of-612 passing (59.6 percent), 4,458 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs
Pickett’s chances didn’t get off to the best start in Columbus last Saturday as the Huskies got thrashed by the Buckeyes. Pickett still threw for 255 yards, but it was against a very strong run defense forcing the pass. Another thing Pickett has going for him is one of the best receivers in the nation in Reggie Williams. Williams is a darkhorse candidate himself, but the attention should gravitate toward the senior if Washington can improve upon its 7-6 record. That, however, may be a tough task if the Huskies can’t put the Rick Neuhisel-gambling mess behind them.
Ell Roberson, QB, Kansas State
2002 Stats: 91-of-175 passing (52.0 percent), 1,580 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs, 202 carries, 1,032 yards, (86.9 yds./game), 16 TDs
Roberson has emerged as one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation. His team has also emerged as a contender in the national championship race. Playing in the easier division of the Big 12, Kansas State looks like a clear favorite in the Big 12 North. If the Wildcats can move beyond the conference title game and into the Sugar Bowl, Roberson will play be a crucial figure in Heisman voting.