A new year brings new hope for every team, and many players as well. The following list takes the 2012 Preseason Coaches Poll and looks at the top Heisman Trophy candidate for each team. Without further ado:
25. Auburn – DE Corey Lemonier
It’s probably not a good sign for your offense when you have a defensive end as your top Heisman candidate, but that’s the reality for the Auburn Tigers this season. As a sophomore last season, Lemonier racked up 13 tackles-for-loss for the Tigers, including 9.5 of them as sacks. While this doesn’t scream “Heisman”, he is no doubt the most impactful defender for Auburn, and should make another leap this year as a junior.
24. Notre Dame – RB Cierre Wood
Notre Dame is an interesting team to look at for Heisman candidates because the team’s two best players aren’t likely to win it at tight end or middle linebacker. So, by default, senior running back Cierre Wood is the choice. Wood ran for over 1,100 yards and 9 touchdowns in just his second season of playing time. Those numbers may not wow you, but they should when you consider he only received 217 carries. This year ,he is once again in a running back committee, but should receive the lion’s share of the work. With quarterback uncertainty permeating South Bend at the moment, Cierre Wood should get the ball early and often.
23. Florida – RB Mike Gillislee
Florida is essentially breaking in an entire offense this upcoming season. Its quarterback is an unknown, it doesn’t have any star receivers, and Rainey and Demps have finally departed. That means the bulk of the carries are going to fall on Mike Gillislee, who averaged over 5.8 yards a carry in 2011. While that only translated into 328 yards, he is poised for a major breakout season, especially if the Gators are going to be successful.
22. Boise State – RB D.J. Harper
It sure seems like a lot of ranked teams don’t even have quarterbacks this year, and Boise State is no different. The Kellen Moore era ends and the ground attack will take over the offense. In 2011, D.J. Harper ran for 553 yards, averaging just under five yards per carry and managing to punch in eight touchdowns. If Chris Petersen is going to make a grand exit by winning the Mountain West one last time, it will be by riding Harper into the sunset.
21. Kansas State – QB Collin Klein
At 22 years of age, Collin Klein is ready to lead the Wildcats to the promised land. After a solid, though not spectacular junior campaign, Klein now has the necessary experience to combine with his obvious physical tools. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs, durability and arm strength are not questions for the senior. He looks to improve upon his 1,900 yards and 13 touchdowns from 2011.