Michigan State Football: Top 5 Heisman contenders of Mark Dantonio era

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In an eerily similar fashion, Javon Ringer had a career climb like that of Devin Thomas once Mark Dantonio took over the Spartans in 2007. The year before the head coach took over, Ringer had recorded less than 500 rushing yards and had just one touchdown.

Then 2007 came. Ringer was considered one of the most talented backs in the Big Ten, but it wasn’t until Dantonio’s pro-style offense took over that we finally got to see Javon reap the rewards of a competent head coach utilizing his strengths.

During that first season, the junior running back finished with 1,447 yards and six touchdowns, somewhat splitting carries with bruising back Jehuu Caulcrick who had 21 touchdown runs. This was the start of the running back factory that Dantonio seems to churn out each year.

While 2007 was a solid season, Ringer’s 2008 campaign was the one in which people were honestly whispering the word “Heisman” in regards to his name. The Spartans had their best season in recent memory, making a second consecutive bowl game after winning nine games. Javon racked up 1,637 yards and 22 touchdowns in the process, recording a few 200-yard games.

John L. never gave Ringer much of a chance to show off his talent, but that’s why Coach D is one of the best in the business. While Devin Thomas’ mention came first on this list, Ringer may have been the first “legitimate” Heisman contender of the Dantonio era.

It’s hard to believe there are three guys who had a better chance than Javon.

Next: 3. Kirk Cousins, QB