Anyone outside of The Plains will tell you that Auburn has no Heisman hopeful heading into 2012, but they said the exact same thing before the 2010 season. Those that take a closer look know that it's not out of reach.
Though it is unlikely that the Tigers will produce another Heisman Trophy winner in 2012, they do have one player that will at least be well into the mix and just might get an invite to New York come December.
Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake looks to have his true breakout year in 2012, but he has a lot of accolades from his past performances to make it a reality.
Blake has been one of the most underrated receivers in the nation for quite some time, but there are numerous reasons for that.
In 2010, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton favored receivers Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachary more, but it was Blake that he turned to in the red zone.
Newton found Blake five times in the opponent's red zone, and four of those receptions turned into touchdowns. Two of those passes were for 15 yards or more.
The 2011 Tigers saw Blake as their only significant receiving threat outside of running back Onterio McCalebb and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen.
He only hauled in 36 passes for 613 yards, but that was good for an average of 17.03 yards per catch. That average was third best in the SEC, ahead of all the 2011 Arkansas receivers and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.
2012 will be a whole different story for Blake.
Auburn will have a capable quarterback slinging the pigskin Blake's way. They could have had that in 2011 with Clint Moseley, but he was a bit raw at the time.
Moseley sat behind Barrett Trotter to start the year, but by late season it was apparent that Moseley was a hell of a lot better.
The waffling by the coaches didn't help his confidence much, but he was still getting some much-needed experience.
He learned the hard way what it's like to be a quarterback in the SEC without an offensive line to speak of.
Don't get me wrong, Auburn has a lot of talent on their front five, but they were just as green as Moseley was.
It was not a good combination for Auburn's hopes in 2011, but that trial by fire will pay dividends in 2012.
Auburn's offensive line will be one of the best in the SEC, and they will be led by outstanding center Reese Dismukes.
Moseley will be a dangerous quarterback in 2012 with a now-experienced offensive line, but he's not the guaranteed starter.
I'm totally sold on Moseley, as are most Auburn fans and the coaches, but Kiehl Frazier may earn the starting spot instead.
If Frazier proves to be better than Moseley, then I'm all in.
Either way, Blake will have an outstanding quarterback throwing to him.
A powerful offensive line protecting a great quarterback and a deadly running game keeping defenses honest are all Blake needs to make waves.
Will Blake win the Heisman? Probably not.
Will he get an invite to New York as a finalist? Maybe.
Wide receivers don't get the right kind of recognition unless they make a big impact on special teams, and Blake is far too valuable for the Tigers to return punts and kicks. They have guys better suited for that anyway, such as running back Tre Mason.
Will he play to the standard of a nationally elite wide receiver? Certainly.
The Heisman may be out of reach for Emory Blake, but the hopes are still there, as are the chances of winning the Biletnikoff Award.
Now that is a piece of hardware that Blake could certainly bring back to The Plains.
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