Keenan Allen, Stepfan Taylor Early Contenders for 2012 Heisman Trophy

There are still several months until the 2012 College Football season gets underway but as can be expected with anything gridiron-related, Heisman talk is a year-long occupation. In that spirit, the people over at Athlon Sports, (via ESPN's PAC-12 Blog), have already released a top-25 list of conference players that could contend for the honor. Several Cal and Stanford players made the cut, but leading Bay Area athletes at No. 6 is Cal Golden Bear WR Keenan Allen. Per Athlon:

6. Keenan Allen, WR, Cal (JR)
This east coast product (Greenboro, N.C.) has already placed himself securely in the Cal record books after only two seasons on campus after a massive 98-catch, 1,343-yard sophomore season. Wilson will have the best stats and Woods might be the most explosive, but there may not be a more physically gifted athlete in the Pac-12 than Allen. If he can reach paydirt a few more times in 2012, which is possible with improved quarterback play, this graceful gazelle might need to book a flight to Manhattan later this year.

Not far behind him at No. 11 & No. 13 come a pair of Cardinal standout seniors, running back Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011, and linebacker Chase Thomas, a leader on the defense. Athlon gives their rationale:

11. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford (SR)
The Cardinal's offensive onus sans Luck, Martin, Fleener and DeCastro now falls to Taylor. Things will be undoubtedly tougher without the quartet. However, David Shaw has instilled a physical mindset that begins with the rushing attack and Mr. Taylor.

13. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford (SR)
Maybe not as physically gifted as Shayne Skov, but Thomas is certainly more dependable. The outside tackle is a fierce competitor and a preseason first-team All-American. The savvy linebacker plays sideline-to-sideline - and in your backfield.

It should be interesting to see how these players perform in 2012, and if their play warrants them consideration for College Football's top honor.

Discuss Stepfan Taylor and Chase Thomas with Stanford football fans over at Rule of Tree. Talk about Keenan Allen with Cal football fans over at the California Golden Blogs.

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