Under-the-radar Heisman candidates
Snead is the poster boy for a team generating a ton of buzz, but if the 6-foot-4 junior, who threw for 2,762 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2008, is going to win, the Rebels may have to claim the SEC. A favorable schedule (i.e. no Florida) will keep him in the mix.
The school is pushing the hard-hitting safety, but the there's a problem. Not only is Mays a safety, he's vying for the award along with Tennessee safety Eric Berry. Since teams rarely throw Mays' way, his margin of error is miniscule.
Clemson has already begun handing out life-sized growth charts of its running back, but Spiller's campaign will hinge on how he grows as the featured back. An explosive playmaker, Spiller finally has the backfield all to himself, but he's only had one career 20-carry game.
If the Irish's tailor-made schedule keeps them in the national eye, Clausen will certainly be in the mix. He's coming off the third-most prolific passing season in Notre Dame history (3,127 yards and 25 TDs) and has a ton of talented receivers at his disposal. But if the Irish fall flat, so too will Clausen's candidacy.
Despite the fact everyone knew he was going to get the ball, Benn led the Big Ten in receiving in 2008 with 1,055 yards. He'll have to increase his TD production (five last season) to be a legitimate threat and is also hampered by the fact that only two WRs have ever won.
The senior is coming off a career year in which he passed for 3,064 yards and 25 scores and ran for 562 yards and eight TDs, but he gets lost in the shadows of conference-mates Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy and teammates Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter.
The three-year starter has thrown for 7,805 yards and 61 touchdowns and could hit the 4,000-yard mark this season. Big games against Oklahoma, TCU and Utah will help his candidacy, but no non-BCS player has finished higher than third since 1992.
From a pure "did you see that?" perspective, there may not be a more exciting player than the Bears' sophomore. He's a world-class hurdler, making him deadly out of the backfield (846 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns) and his arm is better than many realize (2,091 yards, 59.9 completion percentage), but like Robinson, he's hampered by playing in the shadows of Bradford and McCoy.
When he's on -- like he was when he recorded a Big House-record 431 yards of total offense against Michigan in '08 -- few are better, but erratic play and the fact he's not the best player on his own team (that would be WR Arrelious Benn) won't help matters.
Like Tim Tebow, Grothe carries the offensive load for his team, leading in passing and rushing. He'll have history on his side this season when he becomes the Big East's career total yardage leader, but poor decision-making (14 INTs in each of the last three seasons) could cost him.