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Midseason movements: a few new names in the Heisman watch

Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire

Nothing is guaranteed in the Heisman Trophy race — and that’s how it should be in mid-October.

Quarterbacks have garnered the most attention, but other positions have trickled into contention.

This should be interesting. There’s a relative eternity before the 82nd Heisman Trophy is presented on Dec. 10.

My top five:

1. LOUISVILLE QB LAMAR JACKSON: The Cardinals had a bye week. In no way did that diminish from Jackson’s incredibly productive season or his candidacy for college football’s most notable award.

He’s still my Heisman favorite.

THE LATEST: For the season, Jackson has accounted for 28 touchdowns. He has completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 1,625 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has rushed for 688 yards (7.5 yards per carry) and 14 scores.

NEXT UP: Jackson gets some prime-time exposure on Friday night when the Duke Blue Devils (3-3), coming off a 13-6 win against Army, visit the Cardinals (4-1).

2. CLEMSON QB DESHAUN WATSON: Many people thought Watson, who guided Clemson to a national runner-up finish in 2015, was the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite. He had an OK four-game stretch in September — nothing startling — but he’s kicking it into gear.

THE LATEST: Watson was 14 of 24 for 266 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-10 win at Boston College. He rushed eight times for 28 yards.

For the season, Watson has completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has rushed 57 times for 239 yards.

NEXT UP: Clemson (6-0) hosts N.C. State (4-1). If last season’s game is any indication — the teams combined for 1,011 yards of offense in Clemson’s 56-41 victory — Watson has an opportunity to roll up more impressive stats.

Saturday, September 24, 2016: Michigan's Heisman contender Jabrill Pepper stumbles his way toward the end zone after losing his balance on a first quarter punt return for Michigan during their 49-10 win over Penn State, Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Peppers fell just short of the goal line on the play. (Photo by Lon Horwedel/Icon Sportswire)

Saturday, September 24, 2016: Michigan’s Heisman contender Jabrill Pepper stumbles his way toward the end zone after losing his balance on a first quarter punt return for Michigan during their 49-10 win over Penn State, Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Peppers fell just short of the goal line on the play. (Photo by Lon Horwedel/Icon Sportswire)

3. MICHIGAN LB/DB JABRILL PEPPERS: I’ve been holding out on giving a spot to Mr. Peppers.

I can’t resist any longer.

He’s primarily a defensive player, but can’t be exclusively defined there, having playing 12 different positions. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh is in mid-season hyperbole form, invoking the sacred name of Jim Thorpe when talking about his versatile star.

Not sure about that, but there’s no doubt that Peppers has become the Swiss Army Knife of college football. It seems he can accomplish anything.

THE LATEST: In a 78-0 win at Rutgers, Peppers rushed three times for 74 yards and two touchdowns. He’s averaging 20 yards a touch (including 17.8 yards on punt returns). He has 32 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, six quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.

NEXT UP: Michigan (6-0) gets the week off before facing Illinois (1-4) on Oct. 22.

4. WASHINGTON QB JAKE BROWNING: Browning had a very solid freshman season for the Huskies and was among the “others to watch’’ in the preseason Heisman race. The last two weeks — thunderous victories against Stanford and Oregon — have placed him front and center.

THE LATEST: In a 70-21 victory against Oregon, Browning completed 22 of 28 passes for 304 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. For the season, he has completed 72.2 percent of his passes for 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

NEXT UP: Washington (6-0) gets the weekend off. Next up is Pac-12 Conference opponent Oregon State (2-3) on Oct. 22.

5. FLORIDA STATE RB DALVIN COOK: Cook was one of the preseason Heisman favorites after a 1,691-yard rushing season in 2015 (that somehow did not earn him a trip to New York).

After some light rushing activity through most of September, Cook has seemingly hit his rhythm.

Watch out.

THE LATEST: Cook’s last three games of all-purpose yardage included 329 yards against USF, 246 against North Carolina and 209 against Miami. He has rushed for 785 yards in six games. He’s back on track.

NEXT UP: FSU (4-2) hosts Wake Forest (5-1) on Saturday.

NEXT FIVE: Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey, San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphery, Houston QB Greg Ward Jr., Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.

HEISMAN TRIVIA: Thirty-nine different schools have had a Heisman Trophy winner, including 18 with more than one trophy. Notre Dame and Ohio State has won the most (seven each). Officially, USC has six, but actually had seven (USC’s Reggie Bush was forced to surrender the 2005 trophy, part of the fallout from an NCAA investigation).

Midseason movements: a few new names in the Heisman watch

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