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Even without a starting job, Crist put on Heisman watch

Never mind that Dayne Crist hasn’t officially wrangled the starting quarterback job yet. One of the best predictors of the Heisman Trophy thinks that Crist is on a short list of players that could end up in New York next December 10th waiting to hear his name called for the most prestigious award in college football., the foremost authority on the Heisman Trophy, has released the 2011 Heisman Trophy Watch List and Crist’s name is one of 22 listed.

Here are the rest, in alphabetical order:

Montee Ball, Jr., RB, Wisconsin
Matt Barkley, Jr., QB, USC
Justin Blackmon, Jr., WR, Oklahoma State
Dayne Crist, Sr., QB, Notre Dame
Knile Davis, Jr., RB, Arkansas
Michael Dyer, So., RB, Auburn
Robert Griffin, Jr., QB, Baylor
Ronnie Hillman, So., RB, San Diego State
LaMichael James, Jr., RB, Oregon
Landry Jones, Jr., QB, Oklahoma
Marcus Lattimore, So., RB, South Carolina
Andrew Luck, Jr., QB, Stanford
Taylor Martinez, So., QB, Nebraska
Bryant Moniz, Sr., QB, Hawaii
Kellen Moore, Sr., QB, Boise State
Aaron Murray, So., QB, Georgia
Trent Richardson, Jr., RB, Alabama
Denard Robinson, Jr., QB, Michigan
Geno Smith, Jr., QB, West Virginia
Darron Thomas, Jr., QB, Oregon
Brandon Weeden, Sr., QB, Oklahoma State
James White, So., RB, Wisconsin

The list is quarterback heavy, but Crist’s inclusion gives you an idea of how some analysts expect the Irish offense to explode in season two under Brian Kelly.

Crist still needs to a) prove he’s healthy after another season-ending knee injury, b) beat out Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson, and c) evolve after a solid, but far from spectacular first season in Kelly’s spread attack.

But watch lists are all about putting the cart before the horse. So even if you find the logic of putting Crist on a list of 22 players -- or even the nation’s 13 most prolific quarterbacks -- Irish fans would likely settle for that quite quickly.