Here it is everybody: the first ESPN Heisman watch list for the 2013 season.
Let the discussion begin.
First, as it relates to the ACC: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is the lone league representative. That does not come as a huge shock, but his place on the list is somewhat surprising. Boyd is listed at No. 7, picking up two second-place votes, one third-place vote and one fifth-place vote. He also is behind five other quarterbacks.
Both colleague Heather Dinich and I agree Boyd is way too low. We each had him in our top 5. Boyd had yet another terrific season in 2012, when he was selected ACC Player of the Year and made the AFCA All-America first-team at quarterback. Given his improvement over the last two seasons, it stands to reason that Boyd is in store for his best season yet.
I thought his performance against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl might have given him more of a push into the top 5 on this list. You know what will? A huge game against Georgia in the opener (Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray checks in last on this Heisman Watch list).
Now, for the top preseason contenders. I am not surprised to see South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1 on the list, even with defending Heisman champion Johnny Manziel returning to Texas A&M. I had Clowney at No. 1 on my preseason list because I believe he is the best player in the country going into the season. It may be time for a defensive player to win this trophy.
As for Manziel, he checks in at No. 3, only four points behind Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. Heather and I left Manziel off our ballots completely given the events of this offseason. We were not the only ones, either, if you add up the votes he received from our 16-member ESPN experts panel.