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Nick Chubb and Jacob Eason are among the top 10 Heisman contenders in the SEC.

Georgia football: Nick Chubb, Jacob Eason named 2 of the top Heisman candidates in SEC

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Nick Chubb, Jacob Eason named among top Heisman contenders in SEC

Herschel Walker and Frank Sinkwich are the only Heisman Trophy winners from the University of Georgia, and it’s unlikely that the Bulldogs will add another to his ranks this season. But a few guys have a significantly better shot than others. Tailback Nick Chubb and quarterback Jacob Eason were named to Athlon Sports’ list of top 10 Heisman contenders in the SEC at No. 5 and No. 9, respectively.

5. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Just about everybody inside and outside of Athens were shocked to see that Chubb and fellow tailback Sony Michel were going to return to Georgia for their senior years. Chubb appeared to be fully healthy in 2016 after recovering from knee surgery and there are only a handful of players capable of completely taking over a game. If the Bulldogs’ offensive line can come together and create space, Chubb could run from Atlanta and the SEC title game right on up to New York.

9. Jacob Eason, QB, Georgia

Georgia experienced some growing pains in coach Kirby Smart’s first year on the job and part of that had to do with turning the offense over to a freshman in Eason. While he had his ups and downs while getting his feet wet, the former 5-star quarterback with an impressive supporting cast is one reason why folks keep increasing expectations for the Bulldogs. If Eason can make the leap as a sophomore and put up big numbers while leading his team to a conference title (and likely the College Football Playoff if so), then he’s bound to be involved with the Heisman come December.

If either player wants to earn some votes on the ballot, they’ll have to drastically increase their statistical output in 2017. The last tailback to win the award, Derrick Henry in 2015, rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 TDs, while the last one before him, Mark Ingram in 2009, ran for 1,658 yards and 17 scores. Henry-like numbers seem impossible for Chubb at this stage, partially because Sony Michel will take away many of the carries that would be needed to achieve that. But if Chubb can return to the form he was in early in the 2015, before the horrific knee injury, 1,500 yards or more is not out of the question. (Improved offensive line play permitting.)

As for Eason’s chances, Heisman winner Lamar Jackson threw for 3,543 yards last season, compared to Eason’s 2,430. Jackson also ran for 1,571 yards. Which brings up another hurdle for Eason: Dual-threat quarterbacks have a much better shot at winning the Heisman these days. Most of the Heisman-winning quarterbacks over the last decade were known as much for making plays with their legs as they were for making the with their arms The last traditional pro-style quarterbacks to win the Heisman – excluding Jameis Winston, who didn’t run often in college, but had the ability to when pressed – was Sam Bradford in 2008, when he passed for 4,720 yards.

If Eason ever sniffed that kind yardage, the Heisman wouldn’t be the only piece of silverware added to the trophy case at Butts-Mehre.

Party like it’s 2007

It seems as if Georgia’s coaches are going to try whatever it takes to get the ball in the hands of playmakers. That could include going throwback and running some of the shiftier guys on offense out of the Wildcat. Mecole Hardman lined up as a Wildcat quarterback in practice on Wednesday, as did Michel.

Neither should come as much of a surprise. Hardman was a quarterback in high school before trying cornerback his freshman season at Georgia, an experiment that has since ended. Michel has taken snaps out of Georgia’s Wildcat package in the past.

Hardman took snaps with tailbacks Elijah Holyfield and Chubb by his side. Freshman tailback D’Andre Swift and sophomore tailback Brian Herrien also were involved during the drill. Running backs coach Dell McGee ran the drill.

Who’s catching Kirby Smart’s eye?

Kirby Smart commented on some Bulldogs who have caught his eye so far in spring practice, including Hardman, Isaiah Wynn, and Mark Webb. Potential starting star cornerback Tyrique McGhee was praised by Smart for his leadership.

In answering a token question about players who might be demonstrating leadership, Smart mentioned McGhee, the sophomore defensive back from Peach County: “I’d say a guy who sticks out to me, who is always challenging his teammates, is Tyrique McGhee. He is a sophomore. He’s not afraid to speak up and say, ‘We’ve got to do better, we’ve got to practice harder, we’ve got to be more physical.’ I like his leadership qualities.”

Welcome to the NFL

NFL rookies are on a steep learning curve when they jump into the league, both in terms of learning the playbooks and learning how to act in the locker room. Apparently the Denver Broncos have a no sleeping in the meeting room policy, taught former Georgia Bulldog Isaiah McKenzie learned the hard way from teammate Emmanuel Sanders.

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Correction: In the original story, Frank Sinkwich inadvertently was omitted as a Heisman Trophy winner. DawgNation regrets the error.