There's so much I have to preface it with, that any opining on Jeremy Johnson, or his potential Heisman candidacy, may never actually occur. And in fact, such an outcome wouldn't be entirely horrible because, look, if we're being honest with ourselves, we're all wasting our time here. There's only four contenders for the Heisman this season. Three of them play quarterback. One plays running back. They ALL play for Ohio State. But if we're intent on acting as if someone in the SEC—or anyone from anywhere else in the goddamn country—has a shot, then let me tell you why everyone else is wrong and I am right, in that Johnson is the only legitimate contender.
Before I do this, though, allow me to commend everyone else on this site for posting intelligible and compelling arguments for players not named Jeremy Johnson to win the Heisman Trophy, this despite knowing deep down that Johnson is the league's best chance to garner an invite to New York. I can only assume the reason they even bothered to suggest other candidates is because I claimed Johnson first, and even if he is the only candidate, a Heisman Contender Series featuring only Jeremy Johnson would turn stale rather quickly. So thanks guys, for biting the bullet. OK, moving on.
Perhaps I should remind everyone that Heisman voters as a whole are old and traditional and formulaic, and that save for Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow and Carson Palmer, EVERY OTHER HEISMAN WINNER OF THE LAST FIFTEEN YEARS PLAYED FOR A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. This is an SEC site, and I'm an alum of an SEC school. So it goes without saying that I support the conference, and in general, wish it well. But look around, people. How many teams in the league stand even a remote chance of playing for a national championship this year? Take off whatever two-toned glasses you're wearing, and be honest. That's right: two, maybe three. And I only say that many because this is college football after all, and who knows what magical run an Arkansas or Georgia or A&M or ‘Bama are primed for? But really, I'm of the personal belief that only Auburn stands a chance of making the playoff this season for reasons I'll expound upon later (and by later, I mean this summer).
So, for the purpose of this piece, let's (rightfully) assume Auburn is the league's only playoff contender, OK? Now, perhaps I should remind whoever's still reading this that Heisman voters as a whole are predictable and unoriginal and unmoved by new ideas, and that save for only Mark Ingram and Reggie Bush, EVERY OTHER HESIMAN WINNER OF THE LAST FIFTEEN YEARS PLAYED QUARTERBACK. And, after a quarterback competition that was never really a competition, Jeremy Johnson was finally named Auburn's starting quarterback earlier this week. Which, even if he hadn't shown glimpses of potential before, he'd already be the leader in the SEC's Heisman clubhouse by virtue of his playing quarterback, and doing so for the team with the best chance of play-offing in December.
I suppose I should at some point speak on Johnson himself, and point out statistics and other tidbits pertinent to his Heisman candidacy (or success in general), so here goes. Admittedly, much of this prediction is based off my personal eye-test, of which, history suggests ain't worth much. But like a lot of people, I saw Johnson torch Arkansas for nearly 250 passing yards in ONE half of football last year, a half he started because AU's regular starter was suspended for doing something dumb that I can't recall right now.
However, it was the first half of the first game of the season, which can be a little nerve wracking even for those who've started for years. But Johnson was unfazed, showcasing a big-ass arm which'll put secondaries on high, high alert this season. The beneficiaries of that big-ass arm are more than decent in talent, including D'qhehufoezhceuqjde Williams, who'll well just refer to as Duke Williams, and who is also already being hailed as the top receiving prospect in next year's NFL draft.
Further, the fat guys in front of Johnson are the good kind of fatties, in that they're agile and adept at fending off defenders. This includes freakazoid, Braden Smith, as well as Avery Young, who could've gone to the NFL if he wanted, and Austin Golson, who Auburn stole from Ole Miss. (And, since I'm all about trends, the last two times Auburn used a stolen SEC player for the first time, that team wound up playing for the national championship. Just sayin'.) But no matter if they were grown in a lab or plundered from a rival, this means that Johnson, theoretically, stands a good chance to 1.) Have time to find Duuuuuuuuuuuuke downfield and thus pad his stats/win games/create awesome moments and 2.) Stay healthy enough to claim the Heisman, because quarterbacks with piss-poor O-lines are too busy ducking for cover to actually make Heisman-worthy plays (or any plays, really).
By now you've probably picked up on the fact that I have nothing but eye-test, hearsay, and surrounding-talent in which to pin upon Johnson's Heisman hopes. And you may be inclined to write off my prediction until you realize that Manziel and Jameis Winston, two of the last three winners, were also relative unknowns before BLOWING UP in their respective Heisman-winning seasons. (And if the Heisman Trust's selection of Marcus Mariota last season was an attempt to move away from dickhead winners, then mark that as another plus for Johnson, who by all accounts seems like a wholesome guy and the kind who wouldn't embarrass Heisman voters until after he receives the trophy, if ever.)
The Heisman formula is simple, people: be a quarterback, and do so for a title-contending team, preferably the kind with people to block for you and take the balls you've thrown into the end zone (not those super stingy defensive contenders). As far as the SEC goes, Johnson fits this bill the best. But because his name is not Cardale, or J.T., or Braxton, or Ezekiel (LOL), he probably won't win the Heisman this season. And in fact, this series is really a prediction for the SEC's Heisman contenders in 2016.