Guest post from Dan Goldwell
We already know the trendy picks to content for the Heisman this season. Of course Johnny Football comes up. Braxton Miller gets thrown around quite a bit. But don’t forget, Matt Barkley was the favorite to win it last year and I’m pretty sure he threw as many interceptions as touchdowns. So preseason hype doesn’t mean anything.
That’s why I won’t be paying attention to the big names that are supposedly going to content for the award. I’m looking for two things in my hopefuls: experience and schedule. You see, the easier the schedule, the easier it is to pad big stats which we all know win Heisman votes. Of course you have to be in a legitimate conference or be an independent with a legitimate schedule. Otherwise your schedule is just too weak.
So who are the 5 dark horse candidates? Here they are in no particular order and why I like them.
1. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Van Noy was one of the main reasons BYU had one of the top defenses in the country last year. Not only that, he was third team All American so he put up some good numbers. He is mostly on this list because he will be a Senior and because of the bowl game performance he had which was pretty incredible.
BYU also has the perfect schedule. Nine of their twelve opponents played in bowl games in 2012. They get Notre Dame who made the national championship. They get Wisconsin who won the Big Ten and played in the Rose Bowl. They get Boise State who won the MWC. They get Georgia Tech who played for the ACC championship and wiped out USC in their bowl game. They get Utah State and Texas who had big turn around seasons. But they also have Virginia and Idaho State so there are just enough weak teams to get wins and respect. If BYU can pull out 10 wins or more, Van Noy will be a big part of it and will be just like Manti Teo last year minus the fake girlfriend.
2. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
This guy put up nearly 2,000 yards in his sophomore year and was a first team All American in 2012. And have you seen the first three games for Arizona this year? FCS foe Northern Arizona followed by MWC doormat UNLV and FBS newcomer Texas San Antonio. Carey is going to rack up big time numbers in those games and get some national attention. Of course, Geno Smith followed this model last year and really flamed out during conference play.
And the Pac-12 looks to be pretty strong this year. Still, Carey has proven he can run against the big boys in the Pac-12. I’m not sure why I haven’t been hearing more about him, but I’m sure we will three weeks into the season.
3. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
His freshman year may not have had the fantastic numbers you expect to see, but keep in mind he was suspended for a few games. This kid was the number one high school wide receiver recruit a couple of years ago and he had plenty of circus act catches in ESPN’s top plays to get noticed. If he stays healthy and plays a full season, this guy can put up big numbers and compete with Marqise Lee as top receiver in the country.
Missouri has a rough conference schedule in the SEC but gets Murray State, Indiana and Arkansas State in non-conference games which will certainly help pad the stats. Keep an eye on this one.
4. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Marcus Mariota seems to be the quarterback in the Pac-12 getting all the preseason hype, but don’t overlook the sophomore Bruin. He got it done in the air and even on the ground last year, leading UCLA to one of their best seasons in recent memory. The big question mark is what he will do without Jonathan Franklin in 2013. Another potential problem is the schedule. The two opening games are Nevada and Nebraska, no cakewalks. If those games don’t go well, confidence could be crushed. But if they do go well, count on Hundley to have a terrific year.
5. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (FL)
He was a freshman last year which is probably why you don’t know much about him, but this kid is good. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry which is practically a first down every time he touched the ball. He threw in plenty of receiving yards for good measure. Miami was a young team and they have been getting better. This year should be a breakout year for the Hurricanes, especially with their somewhat soft schedule.
They do get Florida in the non-conference, but they get Virginia, Duke and Pitt to close out the season as well as Savannah State and Florida Atlantic in other non-conference matchups. This is a program on the up and up and this is a kid with huge upside.
Now, do any of these five have realistic chances of getting to New York in December? No, that’s why they are called Dark Horses. But did Wichita State have a realistic chance at the Final Four? I’m throwing these out there as five guys who have a shot at the Heisman but aren’t getting a lot of attention. I guess we’ll see how it all plays out.
About the author
Dan Goodwell is a freelance writer with years of experience in web marketing and writing on a variety of topics, including sports. If you would like him to write a free article for your website, please contact him at DanGoldwell.com.