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

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If you’re like me, you probably didn’t think much of the Le’Veon Bell commitment for the class of 2010. Actually, you probably thought the 2010 season, as a whole, was a fluke as the freshman running back accounted for 605 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per carry — ranking second on the team behind Edwin Baker.

Baker was considered the starting running back for the Spartans and a guy who would lead this team for years in the backfield, that is, until Bell got to campus.

No one, and I mean not one person, thought Bell would steal Baker’s job just like he did in his sophomore season. The 2011 campaign began with Larry Caper, Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell all challenging each other for carries while it seemed like it would be down to Caper and Baker, but Bell took the cake with his consistent performances.

The young back followed up a fantastic freshman season with an even better sophomore campaign in which he racked up 914 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging about 1.3 yards per carry better than the highly-thought of Baker.

After his sophomore year, Kirk Cousins’ last season at MSU, Bell was projected to carry the team in 2012, especially after Baker surprisingly declared for the NFL draft as well. Le’Veon was a legitimate first-team All-Big Ten player with Heisman hopes.

If it weren’t for a disappointing season for the Spartans in which they followed up an 11-win year with a 7-6 season and a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl appearance, Bell may have been a true Heisman contender/finalist.

The Spartan running back was probably the best Mark Dantonio has had thus far, recording 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns for a lethargic offense in 2012. Also, if the offense was a bit more prolific, we may have been talking about Michigan State’s first-ever Heisman winner.

However, the current top-three NFL running back never had a real shot of winning the award, despite having all the tools and numbers to do so.

Next: 1. Connor Cook, QB