2013 Pac-12 Preseason Heisman Candidates: Marquise Lee, Marcus Mariota and Thomas Lead the Pack of Contenders

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

The Pac-12 has at least five legit Heisman candidates going into 2013.

A Pac-12 player hasn't won the Heisman in nearly 10 years, and a Pac-12 player who didn't play for USC (Unless you count Colorado's Rashaan Salaam in 1994) since Stanford's Jim Plunkett in 1970, but the conference has probably five players that I would say are legitimate Heisman candidates heading into 2013. But since this is the Pac-12, we'll take a look at the 12 players who have legitimate, dark horse and one-in-a-million chances to take home the award in 2013.

1. Marqise Lee Jr. WR USC

Lee had one of the best seasons a Pac-12 receiver has ever had in 2012, and finished in the Top 5 of Heisman voting. He will have to adjust to having a new quarterback and not having All-American Robert Woods helping him out in the receiving unit, but he is still probably the marquee candidate at the moment and might get even more passes thrown his way to fuel his candidacy with Woods gone. However, if USC can't get a quarterback to step up adequately, and the Trojans continue to struggled, then it might be hard for Lee to launch a serious campaign.

2. Marcus Mariota So. QB Oregon

The full package, Mariota can run and pass as well as any quarterback in the country and racks up video game prolific numbers in Oregon's offense with perfectionist efficiency. The Ducks are legitimate national title contenders, with Mariota as their leader and that could score him huge points if they are still in the national title hunt towards the end of the season.

3. De'Anthony Thomas Jr. RB Oregon

Thomas has the perfect recipe for a Heisman candidate as he is a versatile playmaker, who essentially plays two positions, excels in special teams and plays for a national title contender. Thomas' main obstacle might actually be his teammate, Mariota, as the two could end up splitting the votes between themselves.

4. Ka'Deem Carey Jr. RB Arizona

Being the nation's leading rusher from the previous season automatically gets Carey into the Heisman discussion going into 2013. Carey should be able to follow it up again in Rich Rodriguez' high-octane offense, but his biggest hurdle might be playing for a team that isn't expected to win more than seven or eight games.

5. Brett Hundley So. QB UCLA

A scary duel-threat QB for a UCLA that could easily win the Pac-12 South, Hundley doesn't have the best tools to work with at running back and receiver, but could create an exciting one-man show in 2013. If Hundley leads the Bruins to a Pac-12 South title and plays well in his marquee games, then the sky is the limit for his candidacy.

6. Will Sutton Sr. DT Arizona State

Obviously defensive players, especially ones that play on the line, have a very tough time going after the Heisman, but Sutton in the returning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and might be the best defensive player in the country not named Clowney.

7. Anthony Barr Sr. LB UCLA

Barr will obviously face the same problem that Sutton will, but his exciting play and marquee market could garner him a ton of attention if he can turn the Bruin defense into a force and lead them to a Pac-12 South title.

8. Kevin Hogan So. QB Stanford

Hogan is a legitimate darkhorse as, even though he has only started a few games and isn't well-known nationally, the quarterback of a national title contender is always an easy way to get in the Heisman race, and that is exactly what Hogan should be in 2013.

9. Taylor Kelly Jr. QB Arizona State

I think Arizona State could be a darkhorse Pac-12 title contender and if Kelly can lead them into that realm while also performing well in marquee non-conference match-ups against Wisconsin and Notre Dame, a Heisman run could be a reality.

10. Bishop Sankey Jr. RB Washington

Starting to get to some serious longshots here, but Sankey ran for more than 1,400 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in 2012, and if he can improve upon that, and the Huskies can improve into a Pac-12 title contender, you never know.

11. Shayne Skov Sr. LB Stanford

I think Trent Murphy might be the better player, but Skov receives more attention as the vocal leader of Stanford's defense.

12. Byron Marshall So. RB Oregon

Okay, so this one is a big reach, but Marshall will be filling the role that launched LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner into the Heisman conversation, so it's not unrealistic to think that Marshall has a remote chance to do that in his first year as a starter.

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