Could USC Have a Heisman Candidate in 2014?


Dec 8, 2012; New York, NY, USA; A detailed view of the Heisman Trophy during a press conference before the announcement of the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at the Marriott Marquis in downtown New York City. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Heisman Trust will award the most coveted individual honor in college football to its 78th recipient — The Heisman Trophy.

USC is well-represented among the 77 current Heisman winners. Tied with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most winners all-time (and yes, we count Reggie Bush, who is far from the only winner to have skirted NCAA rules yet the only one who has officially had to return his award), the Trojans have a history of producing players considered the “most outstanding” in the nation.

No Trojan is set to be on stage in New York tonight, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to who might be there next year. After all, USC has more than a few players with the potential to break out at a Heisman level in 2014.

Marqise Lee: 

Lee came into the 2013 season as a dark horse Heisman candidate but injuries and breaking in a new quarterback severely limited his production this season. With numbers not even half of what he managed in 2012, Lee’s Heisman chances slipped away quickly.

However, if the junior returns for his senior season, there’s no reason he couldn’t regain the form that won him the Biletnikoff Award and more. Add in the potential increase in offensive production from Steve Sarkisian’s new offense and Lee could catapult back into the picture easily.

Nelson Agholor:

Like Lee, Agholor has everything to gain from Sarkisian’s return to USC. Unlike Lee, he has a very solid 2013 to build on. Agholor led the Trojans in receiving with 824 yards and four touchdowns, numbers that should rise with a more aggressive and explosive offense.

Agholor also has his skills as a kick returner to add to his candidacy. He was best in the nation with an average of 21.63 yards per punt return and took two to the house in 2013.

Nov 16, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans tailback Javorius Allen (37) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Buck Allen:

Allen broke out in the latter half of 2013 as a game-breaker in the run game. He averaged 6.47 yards per carry and had 12 rushing touchdowns.

Consider this, Allen has just four games with double-digit touches, yet sits 26th in the country in plays of 30 or more yards and 12th when the range moves up to 40 yards or more.

Allen is a spectacular runner and if he grabs the starting job on the strength of the end of this season, he could the play-making running back USC has been searching for since #5 ran circles around defenders on the Coliseum floor.

Tre Madden:

Madden was USC leading rusher this season despite missing nearly half of the season with injuries. Though he technically played in 11 games, he was at full strength in just five of them.

When he was at full strength he had all the makings of a special player. Like Allen he has shown big play ability while also thriving as the workhorse. He’s also a major threat in the passing game, as evidenced by his four receiving touchdowns.

In Sarkisian’s new system, a healthy Madden could conceivably put up Bishop Sankey numbers.

Justin Davis:

Davis was a true freshman in 2013 and saw his season end prematurely with an achilles injury after just seven games, but in those seven games Trojan fans got a glimpse of a great talent.

Davis racked up six touchdowns in just 53 carries on the season. He also averaged 6.81 yards per attempt.

While it would take a lot for Davis to find carries in what has become a crowded Trojan backfield, he has all the potential in the world to fulfill.