Sport The Most Intriguing Dark Horses of the Offseason Heisman Hype Machine

20:31  17 may  2018
20:31  17 may  2018 Source:   si.com

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While Barkley receives the bulk of the Heisman hype for Penn State’s preseason no. 6 squad, McSorley might have a better chance in the long College Football Week 1 Awards: Let’s Just Give Alabama the Title. 2017 Heisman Watch: 10 Dark - Horse Contenders Who Could Beat the Favorites.

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The Heisman Trophy race is an unpredictable journey that formally unfolds over the course of approximately three months, starting on Labor Day weekend and ending at an overwrought, early-December ceremony in New York City. But an important, less quantifiable component of the Heisman derby takes place during the offseason. It involves the amplification or tamping down of hype for certain players based on past performance, projected improvement and various other factors. Even now, for instance, it’s not hard to identify the guys who will enter the fall as the strongest candidates to take home the award.

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USC quarterback Sam Darnold might be the heavy favorite to win the Heisman , but there are plenty of dark horse candidates that could make a run at the award. He was named college football's best player by Sports Illustrated over the offseason and has generated significant buzz as a first-round

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Today, let’s ignore the favorites and look at 10 potential dark horses in the 2018 race, who may seem like long shots for college football’s most prestigious individual honor now but stand a good chance of playing their way into the discussion. As a (hopefully) uncontroversial effort at sorting the pool, we chose to exclude the 11 players Bovada listed with the best odds on April 10: Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, Stanford running back Bryce Love, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant.

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Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson are deservedly getting a love of love in offseason Heisman polls, but it was Mayfield who earned the best passing grade among returning Power-5 QBs last year. A whopping 21 percent of his pass attempts traveled 20 or more yards

Five of the last seven Heisman winners (Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Ingram, Johnny Manziel, and Jameis Winston) returned to school after winning, with the hype machine Just as likely, though, the 2015 spotlight will be commandeered by a dark horse lurking on the fringes of the preseason hype

Florida State RB Cam Akers, sophomore

Akers lived up to the exalted recruiting reputation he brought to Tallahassee last year as the 247Sports Composite’s No. 3 player in the class of 2017 by rushing for 1,024 yards on 5.3 yards per carry, and he’s poised to use that promising debut season as a springboard to the national spotlight. Akers is almost definitely going to put up big numbers in new head coach Willie Taggart’s up-tempo offense, regardless of which of three quarterbacks competing for the starting job is handing him the ball. Whether those numbers will lead to serious Heisman consideration will hinge in large part on how much Florida State improves from last season’s 7–6 flop.

Washington QB Jake Browning, senior

As a sophomore in 2016, Browning placed sixth in the Heisman voting after teaming with speed demon John Ross to form one of the nation’s most lethal QB-WR tandems while propelling the Huskies to the College Football Playoff. Last season, with Ross in the NFL, Browning’s production tailed off as Washington “settled” for a 10–3 record and a Fiesta Bowl berth, while the Pac-12 was shut out of the playoff altogether. The Huskies should be back in the mix with their senior signal-caller, a top-tier left tackle (senior Trey Adams) protecting his blindside and a dangerous tailback (senior Myles Gaskin) compelling opposing defenses to stack the box.

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Some may believe this is yet another case where offseason hype has been blown out of proportion, and that may prove to be the case. Sports Illustrated did offer a reason why Stidham should still be considered a dark horse , however. Auburn is the most intriguing team in the West though.

Handling the Hype Machine . Jesse Pantuosco. RotoworldJune 28, 2016. We need to separate hype from reality, which in many cases is almost impossible. Beat writer Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland agrees that it’s been an “underwhelming” offseason for the former Heisman Trophy winner. Horse Racing. Cycling.

Boston College RB AJ Dillon, sophomore

You could be forgiven for missing Dillon’s weekly dump-truckings in low-stakes games during the second half of last season. His 1,589 yards on 5.3 yards per carry netted him the BC freshman rushing record, the ACC Rookie of the Year award and not much else. It’s entirely possible something similar could play out in 2018—Dillon plowing through linemen, juking linebackers to the turf and dusting defensive backs while assembling a sterling statistical résumé, only with none of the publicity that would come with those feats at a brand-name program. For Dillon to make a dent in the Heisman competition, the Eagles may need to at least get within shouting distance of Clemson at the top of the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald, senior

Fitzgerald spent the spring recovering from the severe injury he suffered to his right ankle during the Bulldogs’ Thanksgiving night loss to Ole Miss last season. He’s expected to be fully healthy by the start of fall camp, at which point he will step into new head coach Joe Moorhead’s pace-pushing offense. Fitzgerald’s ability to gash defenses both through the air and on the ground, as well as his opportunity to slay a slate of marquee foes in the SEC (Florida, Auburn, at LSU, at Alabama), make him an obvious name to toss into the Heisman fray at this stage.

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Heard took a redshirt behind Swoopes as a freshman but has always been the more intriguing option because of his dual-threat ability. Hill will not be mentioned alongside other Heisman front-runners this offseason , which is fair.

Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill, junior

During the first two seasons of his college career, Hill functioned as a complementary component in one of the nation’s top offenses next to program record-setting quarterback Mason Rudolph and Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver James Washington. Now that Rudolph and Washington have moved on to the NFL, head coach Mike Gundy could turn to Hill more often, particularly as Rudolph’s successor gets acclimated under center early on. Hill should take well to an increased carry load. As a sophomore in 2017, he racked up 1,467 yards and 15 touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry and finished the year by gashing Virginia Tech’s stingy run defense for 120 yards and a score.

Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke, junior

Lewerke will begin his second season as the Spartans’ starting QB in a favorable position to build up Heisman momentum. Not only does Michigan State look set to mount a challenge to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in arguably the toughest division in the Power 5 leagues (the Big Ten East), it brings back its top three receivers and four starters on the offensive line from the group that rebounded from a dismal 2016 season to win 10 games last fall. Lewerke’s output as a runner and passer could keep him in the Heisman mix, provided the Spartans make good on their preseason expectations by staying in the playoff hunt.

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No. 2, hype and attention. We’re sure Johnny Manziel didn’t embark on his offseason world tour looking to start a 2013 Heisman Trophy campaign. Manziel had a Longhorns tattoo, but not really. You get it. The Most Interesting Quarterback in the World has been everywhere.

The Heisman Trophy is handed out to college footballs most outstanding player but when it comes to preseason predictions, the award is not much more Here are 12 dark horse Heisman candidates who have what it takes to make it into the conversation now and in December

Missouri QB Drew Lock, senior

Lock’s Heisman bid requires an assumption that the changes new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley—who oversaw a disappointing 15–21 run over three seasons as Tennessee’s head coach from 2010 to ’12 and has never previously served as an OC —will install in Missouri’s scheme won’t materially hamper Lock’s ability to roast opposing defenses with his cannon arm. Under the direction of Josh Heupel last season, Lock threw for a Football Bowl Subdivision–high 44 touchdowns and ranked in the top five in passing efficiency. If he can get close to those marks again now that Heupel has taken over as UCF’s head coach, Lock might be able to outflank other big-name SEC QBs in the race.

UCF QB McKenzie Milton, junior

The Knights lost head coach Scott Frost and his high-octane offense to Nebraska, but as his replacement they hired Heupel, under whom Lock posted eye-popping numbers while rising into the first-round discussion for the 2019 draft. Lock’s success last season suggests Milton might be able to pick up right where he left off as a sophomore in 2017, when he tallied 45 touchdowns and 4,650 total yards and ranked behind only Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield in passing efficiency while driving the Knights to a 13–0 record. A second consecutive run to a New Year’s Six bowl would help Milton overcome the lack of name recognition that typically weighs down candidates from outside the Power 5.

Houston DL Ed Oliver, junior

At first glance, Oliver’s Heisman chances may seem remote by virtue of his position. The last defensive player to win the Heisman was Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997, and few have come close since then. But it’s difficult to argue that Oliver, at the outset of his final college season, is not one of the best players in the nation. Although he will be marked down for facing inferior competition in the AAC, that distinction should count for something. Oliver would really help himself by registering lofty figures in the standard defensive statistical categories that voters inevitably will turn to in assessing his candidacy.

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If you're looking for that long shot—that dark - horse contender to become one of the stars of college football in 2015, look no further than He checks off nearly all the boxes needed to become a Heisman Trophy winner. You can't build hype off of a bowl game. Yes, you can, and you should.

West Virginia WR David Sills V, senior

Sills is not the Mountaineers’ best bet to win the Heisman this season—that honor goes to quarterback Will Grier, but as explained above, he wasn’t eligible for this discussion. Sills could leapfrog Grier, though, with some help from Grier. Sills, who tied Memphis’s Anthony Miller for the FBS lead with 18 touchdown receptions in 2017, should amass another eye-popping stat line as a prime pass-catching threat in one of the most explosive offenses in the country. There’s also something to be said for the narrative appeal of Sills’s backstory. It’s safe to assume that most college football observers would delight in watching a one-time quarterback phenom take home the award at a different position.

Related slideshow: Heisman favorites (provided by Yardbarker)

Though we’re still months away from the start of the 2018 college football season, spring games and practices are a nice reminder that it’s not too early to begin considering who could contend for the Heisman Trophy. There will be no repeat winner with Baker Mayfield headed to the NFL, and the field looks to be wide open with no clear favorite — and a lot of young upstarts who could potentially vie for the famous trophy.  Here are ten leading candidates. It could be a very good year for running backs. Top 10 2018 Heisman Trophy favorites

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