15. Texas – RB Malcolm Brown
It’s not often that you can rush for only 700 yards and 5 touchdowns and be considered a Heisman hopeful the next season, but Malcolm Brown has a good a shot as anyone. He will get the first crack at the bulk of the carries for the Longhorns, and he has a huge offensive line ahead of him that should blow opponents off of the ball. If he makes his mark early, he can take the lead on what should be the most talented backfield in the Big 12.
14. Clemson – QB Tajh Boyd
A real toss-up here between quarterback Tajh Boyd and his All-American wide receiver Sammy Watkins, but due to Watkins’ early-season suspension, the nod goes to Boyd. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal to throw to, and has a 1,000 yard back in Andre Ellington to keep opposing defenses honest. The Clemson Tigers are expecting a huge year and Tajh Boyd will be leading the way.
13. Michigan State – DE William Gholston
If the Spartans are to succeed this year after the departure of quarterback Kirk Cousins, it will be because their defense steps up significantly. They will be led by 6-foot-7, 275 lbs athletic freak William Gholston who contributed 5 sacks last season. Expect him to improve significantly and get after the quarterback with regularity.
12. Wisconsin – RB Montee Ball
Ball finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2011, so he’s already a household name in college football. To go with his insane 1,900 yards, he racked up 33 touchdowns on the ground in 2011. There is no doubt that Ball will have Heisman-caliber numbers; his campaign will come down to the win total for the Badgers. In a division where two Big Ten teams are ineligible to compete for a conference title, Ball has to like his chances.
11. West Virginia – QB Geno Smith
Geno Smith is the preseason pick to win Big 12 Player of the Year after throwing for 4,300 yards and scoring 33 touchdowns in West Virginia’s final season in the Big East. He was the MVP of the Discover Orange Bowl last year and is the unquestioned leader of the Mountaineers. He should be in the Heisman race from start to finish.