WVU Football: Geno Smith Emerging As Top Heisman Trophy Candidate

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 01: Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Marshall Thundering Herd during the game on September 1, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Mountaineers' senior quarterback Geno Smith has claimed the top spot in ESPN's Heisman Trophy Watch poll, voted on by its college football experts.

The outstanding early-season play of West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith was recognized Tuesday, as the Mountaineers' signal caller claimed the top spot in ESPN's latest Heisman Trophy Watch poll. Smith earned 12 first-place votes leading to a total of 72 total points to snag the top spot in the rankings, which is voted on by ESPN's college football experts.

Smith, who threw for five touchdowns and 411 yards on 34-of-39 passing in Saturday's 42-12 victory over James Madison, has a 22-point lead over Oregon Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas, who earned three first-place votes and 50 total points. Thomas was the only other player that earned first-place votes.

So far this season, Smith has thrown for 734 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Matt Barkley, who was ranked No. 1 in last week's poll, fell all the way to No. 5 after the USC Trojans lost to the Stanford Cardinals.

For more on Geno Smith and West Virginia football, visit the SB Nation blog The Smoking Musket.

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