Updated: September 1, 2009, 2:57 PM ET

ESPN Experts Poll

Each week, ESPN.com's panel of experts casts its votes for the top Heisman candidates. The panel consists of analysts, former players, former coaches and ESPN.com's college football staff.

Votes: 1st place = 5 points, 2nd place = 4, 3rd place = 3, 4th place = 2, 5th place = 1.

Name Position School Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
Tim Tebow QB Florida Sr. 11 4 0 0 0 71
Colt McCoy QB Texas Sr. 4 8 3 0 0 61
Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma Jr. 0 3 12 0 0 48
Jahvid Best RB Cal Jr. 0 0 0 6 3 15
Eric Berry S Tennessee Jr. 0 0 0 4 3 11
Dez Bryant WR Oklahoma State Jr. 0 0 0 1 3 5
Jevan Snead QB Mississippi Jr. 0 0 0 2 0 4
Daryll Clark QB Penn State Sr. 0 0 0 0 2 2
Jonathan Dwyer RB Georgia Tech Jr. 0 0 0 0 2 2
Taylor Mays S USC Sr. 0 0 0 1 0 2
Terrelle Pryor QB Ohio State So. 0 0 0 1 0 2
Jerry Hughes DE TCU Sr. 0 0 0 0 1 1
Rolando McClain LB Alabama Jr. 0 0 0 0 1 1

ESPN's Take

Editor's note: Each week this season, ESPN.com will ask one of its Heisman Watch voters to explain his/her picks. Heisman Watch will return Sept. 8.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas: The top three guys from my Heisman ballot last year return and I'm beginning 2009 with my No. 1 guy from 2008, Colt McCoy, in the same position. McCoy is a great leader, a dangerous runner, has a quick release and is incredibly accurate (77 percent in 2008.) He also performed at an incredibly high level throughout the season and didn't have any subpar games. Better still, he has the benefit of having his O-line back (unlike Sam Bradford) and his top playmaker back (unlike Tim Tebow) in Jordan Shipley. Plus, I think there will be a feeling among the Heisman electorate that will cause them to side with McCoy if it's a toss-up in the voting, feeling like it's "his turn."

2. Tim Tebow, Florida: Tebow is definitely in the mix, especially since his team is the preseason No. 1 and there is a huge celebrity quality about him now. I'm intrigued to see this Tebow Version 2.0 with the arrival of new QB coach Scot Loeffler. Tebow was already pretty accurate. Will his tightened-up delivery enable him to take the next step as a passer? Tebow figures to put up a lot of yardage both on the ground and through the air but I wonder if Urban Meyer will try and not have him run quite as much.

3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma: I'll put Bradford No. 3 going into the season. Truth is, it's splitting hairs between the top three guys, but we've seen how hard it can be for an offense breaking in almost an entirely new O-line and I suspect those growing pains will affect the Sooner offense at times this season. Bradford still has a lot of weapons to throw for a ton of yards, especially relying on TE Jermaine Gresham. Plus the Sooners will be in some compelling early-season matchups (BYU and at Miami) to get generate some buzz.

4. Jahvid Best, Cal: Best is the most exciting player in college football and he's also the leading returning rusher. He's my No. 4 guy at this point, but it's almost like he's the fifth Beatle right now because of the sport's fascination with the Big 3 QBs. Best, though, will generate a lot of highlights and that will help keep him relevant in this discussion. I'm curious to see how much better he can be now that he's 10 pounds heavier and determined to show he can get tough yards inside. A big thing for him to overtake the Big 3 QBs is to have a great showing against USC this year. He has been a non-factor against the Trojans the past two years. Without him going for over 100 yards at least against that name-brand heavyweight, I don't think he has a legit shot to win. He could probably get to NYC for the ceremony, but lots of folks would see it as a hollow 2,000 yards … if there really is such a thing.

5. Eric Berry, Tennessee: Berry is the wild card of the whole Heisman race. If this award is truly about "the most outstanding player" (and by now, it's really not, it's more most outstanding offensive backfield guy) Berry deserves consideration. He is a playmaking machine, equal parts big hitter or interception magnet. The guy is also a lethal return guy, as he comes into his junior season just 15 yards short of the NCAA record for most interception return yards. There are two big snags with Berry's candidacy though: defensive guys, even ones who do dabble in other aspects of the game rarely get serious consideration. Two, an even bigger hindrance could be that in the BCS era, there's been an even greater premium put on being on a great team. And few experts are predicting UT does even as well as 8-4 this season. But maybe Berry steals the show when UT visits the Swamp and all eyes will be on that supposed rout.

Recent Heisman Trophy Winners

Year Players School
2008 Sam Bradford Oklahoma
2007 Tim Tebow Florida
2006 Troy Smith Ohio State
2005 Reggie Bush USC
2004 Matt Leinart USC
2003 Jason White Oklahoma
2002 Carson Palmer USC
2001 Eric Crouch Nebraska
2000 Chris Weinke Florida State

For the complete list of Heisman winners, click here.

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Tracking The Candidates

Tim Tebow | QB | Florida

neutral The one-time Heisman winner and two-time national champion is running out of things to achieve in his Florida tenure. Soon, the Gators will have to think about erecting some sort of monument to commemorate Tebow's UF greatness. Oh, wait ….

description 2008 season stats:
Passing: 2,746 YDS | 30 TD
4 INT | 64.4 CMP%
Rushing: 673 YDS | 12 TD


Next: vs. Charleston Southern | Sept. 5 | 7 ET

Colt McCoy | QB | Texas

neutral Once again, McCoy is part of a three-man Heisman race. In 2009, he'll try to make sure UT isn't the third wheel when it comes time to play for the crystal ball. An Oct. 17 matchup with Sam Bradford and OU will loom large for both players' candidacies.

description 2008 season stats:
Passing: 3,859 YDS | 34 TD
8 INT | 76.7 CMP%
Rushing: 561 YDS | 11 TD


Next: vs. Louisiana-Monroe | Sept. 5 | 7 ET

Sam Bradford | QB | Oklahoma

neutral The guy who won the trophy last season returns to school and finds himself in third place? Go figure. Questions about OU's O-line linger, though Bradford and the Sooners have a chance to make an early statement in their season-opener against BYU in Cowboys Stadium.

description 2008 season stats:
Passing: 4,720 YDS | 50 TD
8 INT | 67.9 CMP%
Rushing: 5 TD


Next: vs. BYU | Sept. 5 | 7 ET (ESPN)

Jahvid Best | RB | Cal

neutral Entering 2009, Best looks best-suited to unravel the tyranny of quarterback contenders at the top of the Heisman race. But will his two legs be good enough to overcome the three arms above him?

description 2008 season stats:
Rushing: 1,580 YDS | 15 TD
Receiving: 27 REC | 246 YDS | 1 TD


Next: vs. Maryland | Sept. 5 | 10 ET (ESPN2)

Eric Berry | S | Tennessee

neutral Not since Michigan's Charles Woodson hoisted the trophy in 1997 has a defensive player earned college football's highest honor. Can Berry pack enough of a punch to end that streak?

description 2008 season stats:
7 INT | 2 TD | 72 LNG
72 TCKL | 3 SCK


Next: vs. WKU | Sept. 5 | 12:21 ET

Dez Bryant | WR | Oklahoma State

neutral Perhaps the most fearsome piece of Oklahoma State's triple-headed offensive monster, Bryant will aim to assume Michael Crabtree's 2008 role and give the Heisman race a receiving flavor. The Cowboys' season opener against Georgia is a good opportunity to make an early impression.

description 2008 season stats:
Receiving: 87 REC | 19 TD
1,480 YDS | 17.0 YPC


Next: vs. Georgia | Sept. 5 | 3:30 ET (ABC)