Once per month this offseason, we’ll take a look at the ACC‘s top five contenders for college football’s highest honor: the Heisman Trophy. Sure there’s a very slim likelihood we’ll see an ACC player receive the award this year, but nothing wrong with dreaming.
ACC’s Top Five Heisman Contenders for 2012
State’s schedule isn’t awfully tough in 2012, and coupled with Glennon’s rising stature amongst college football pundits, the senior should at least get some buzz through the midpoint in the season. Despite the medium-strength schedule though, he’ll begin the campaign on a huge stage: the Georgia Dome, where the Wolfpack will be opening the season against Tennessee on national television. It’s the first of many ACC-versus-SEC tests this year, and nothing would set up the Pack and Glennon better than a big win.
Boyd gets knocked down to number two on this list for just two reasons: his top target (see below)’s projected absence in a nationally-televised Kickoff Classic against Auburn, and his lack of throwing accuracy in comparison to other top QBs. Still, since he’s just a junior coming off his first 14 starts at the collegiate level, there’s nowhere to go but up. Boyd will still have skilled receiver DeAndre Hopkins to throw to, and an improved defense to back him up. The results against those “other” Tigers could very well turn out as if everyone was suiting up for the game.
3. Sammy Watkins, WR/Clemson (Last Month: 4)
The more I think about it, the more I think Watkins will have ample opportunities to make up for lost time in 2012. Should he miss the first game, there’s at least 11 more regular season matchups, including at least three games against ranked opponents (projected) — giving him plenty of spotlight to shine in front of voters and pundits alike. Even without a “full” slate of games, it’ll be hard for folks to ignore one of the best big-play targets in the country. He’ll be in the hunt all season, and may end up with some additional hardware by years’ end as well.
4. David Amerson, CB/NC State (Last Month: 3)
Amerson can directly stand in Watkins’ way, and vice versa. Personally, I’m thrilled for their November matchup, which could very well decide the Atlantic division. It’s just so rare to see players who could be the best at each of their respective positions going head-to-head in the college game. If Amerson can replicate last year’s output, he may gain the upper hand in voters’ minds.
This fifth slot has been fairly interchangeable this entire offseason — and with good reason. Thomas has some flaws that could be exacerbated by an unproven running game and inexperienced offensive line. What will set him (and the Hokies) apart, however, is how he deals with these situations. The schedule says VPI could easily be 10-2 or 11-1, despite being worse than last year’s 11-3 team on paper. We’ll see, but a lot of that weight falls directly on Thomas. Should he deliver, he’ll be in the conversation.