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The running backs: Can FSU star Dalvin Cook win the Heisman Trophy?

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Soon, the chase begins.

Soon, Davin Cook sets his eyes on the Heisman Trophy.

What’s that? Oh, you don’t think Cook has a shot? After all, of the six players who finished ahead of Cook in last year’s Heisman race, four of them are back. In the odds of winning the Heisman, Cook is fifth.

Doesn’t that put him in the chase position from the start?

Well, not really. If the Heisman voting recently shows us anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter where you finish the previous season.

Last year, Derrick Henry won the Heisman; the year before, he wasn’t even in the top 10.

And so it goes. The year before he won, Marcus Mariota wasn’t in the top 10. Nor was Jameis Winston. Nor Johnny Manziel. On and on.

In fact, someone hasn’t won it a year after finishing in the top 10 since, well, Reggie Bush, who didn’t get to keep the one he won back in 2005.

In other words, Cook is right about where he should be. He’s not so familiar that voters are weary of him (the “Peyton Manning effect”), but he’s familiar enough that a few big games can get him near the top.

To win a Heisman Trophy, one usually has to build momentum in a season that their team makes a run at the national championship. Winning the title isn’t imperative. But being in the race is, as Mariota, Winston, Cam Newton and Mark Ingram show.

The Seminoles are certainly expected to be in the conversation. And Cook has enough big games to gain some momentum. He starts off with Ole Miss, then has a huge game against Miami. He plays another big game against Clemson, then winds up against Florida. There are games big enough to notice against Louisville and North Carolina.

So, yeah, if Cook has enough big moments, and if the Seminoles win enough big games, Cook can be in the hunt.

Oh, it’ll be crowded enough. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette all have familiar names.

There will be a handful of players that make names for themselves.

Then there is Cook. He has as good a shot as anyone in the nation.

At the starting line, what better place to be?

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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