There are plenty of potential Heisman candidates across the country heading into 2010, and former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller was the perfect example last fall of just how difficult it is to get an invitation to New York. Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh proved how difficult it is for a defensive player to win it.
The ACC does, however, have hope once again for Heisman representation. The Tallahassee Democrat wrote this week that "for the first time in a decade, the Florida State football program enters the offseason with a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate."
Both FSU quarterback Christian Ponder and Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams enter this fall as the league's top two potential Heisman candidates. Of course, they have to maintain, if not improve upon, their past success, stay healthy and win big collectively in order for these hopes to come to fruition.
But who are they up against? Just how tough will the competition be?
Here's a look at who else is on my Heisman radar heading into the fall and how they stack up against Ponder and Williams:
Jake Locker, Washington
Passing: No. 27 (19.17 completions/game)
Passing yards per game: No. 31 (233.33)
Total passing yards: No. 33 (2,800)
Passing efficiency: No. 55 (129.75)
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Passing: No. 46 (17.31)
Passing yards per game: No. 7 (278.77)
Total passing yards: No. 5 (3,624)
Passing efficiency: No. 7 (152.46)
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
Passing: No. 85 (12.85)
Passing yards per game: No. 88 (161.08)
Total passing yards: No. 73 (2,094)
Passing efficiency: No. 59 (128.91)
Kellen Moore, Boise State
Passing: No. 26 (19.79)
Passing yards per game: No. 20 (252.57)
Total passing yards: No. 10 (3,536)
Passing efficiency: No. 2 (161.65)
Case Keenum, Houston
Passing: No. 1 (35.14)
Passing yards per game: No. 1 (405.07)
Total passing yards: No. 1 (5,671)
Passing efficiency: No. 6 (154.79)
*Missed final three games of the regular season and the Gator Bowl, not listed in NCAA passing stats.
Passing yards per game: 301.89
Total passing yards: 2,717
Passing efficiency: 301.91
My take:Mallett made a case for being the best quarterback in the SEC last year, and he made the best decisions against the best competition. Ponder's numbers are impressive considering how much time he missed with his shoulder injury, and they should only be better this fall if he stays healthy and the offensive line lives up to the hype.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
Yards per game: No. 19 (110.77)
Yards per carry: 5.27
Total rushing yards: 1,440
Noel Devine, West Virginia
Yards per game: No. 17 (112.69)
Yards per carry: 6.08
Total rushing yards: 1,465
Dion Lewis, Pitt
Yards per game: No. 3 (138.38)
Yards per carry: 5.54
Total rushing yards: 1,799
Mark Ingram, Alabama
Yards per game: No. 11 (118.43)
Yards per carry: 6.12
Total rushing yards: 1,658
Yards per game: No. 5 (127.31)
Yards per carry: 5.65
Total rushing yards: 1,655
My take: In order for Williams to unseat the reigning Heisman winner, Ingram, he'll have to have his best performances against the toughest defenses, stay healthy, and get the bulk of the carries despite the return of Darren Evans. One huge boost to Ingram's campaign last year was that he averaged 178 yards per game vs. top-25 teams (VT, UM, USC, LSU). He also showcased his ability to catch the ball and had a nation-leading 38 runs of 10 yards.