The Heisman race always starts during the preseason with the top players from the top teams in the country compiling the early list of candidates.
By season's end there are always darkhorse candidates that we never expect to see, and this coming year should be no different. There are 10 players that showed this fall that they have the talent to make a Heisman run.
Last year was the year of the freshman and defender. This season will be the year of the non-AQ school finalist. There is a wealth of skill talent at the mid-major level and those guys are becoming household names with the widespread television coverage of college football.
Look for these 10 names to find their way into the discussion before the 2013 season concludes.
Jordan Lynch is already a household name in college football circles. He was able to march his MAC Northern Illinois Huskies to the Orange Bowl this season. Non-AQs rarely make the BCS, so when they do the country finds out who the quarterback is.
Lynch is a star in his own right, running a spread-option offense with the best in the game. His team was mauled by the Florida State defense in the bowl game, but that doesn’t take away from his abilities that were displayed weekly last year.
He had nine games with over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing this past year. Lynch will be a very good quarterback this coming year and should be in the Heisman discussion.
Derek Carr is a rising star in college football leading the Fresno State Bulldogs' prolific passing offense. Last season Carr passed for 4,104 yards and averaged 315.7 yards per game.
He will be a rising senior for the Bulldogs and will have the country’s attention by the years end. The Bulldogs put up a solid year last season and should be able to compete for a conference title in 2013.
As the country turns to difference makers they will find Carr throwing bombs to his receivers in the Valley. This may be Carr’s year to follow in his brother David’s footsteps and take over as the star quarterback of college football.
David Fluellen is a stud for Toledo and is a game changer from the backfield. He has brought a solid ground game to the Rockets all season, rushing for over 200 yards in three games and for over 100 in seven.
He finished the year with 1,498 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He also added 246 yards to the offense as a receiver. Fluellen is a multipurpose back that has a great shot at being the country’s leading rusher next fall.
There isn’t any hype that surrounds Fluellen at this point, but as the summer wears on and the season begins, he will become a hot name in the Heisman race.
Ohio had a very good year in 2012, and they are making a charge at becoming one of the best non-AQ schools in the FBS. Frank Solich has done great things with this offense with a focus coming on the ground game.
Beau Blankenship is a key to the Bobcats offense and returns for his senior season this coming fall. Last year he was able to rush 312 times for 1,604 yards. He also added 15 rushing touchdowns to his stat line.
This team is not the same without the backfield threat that Blankenship provides. He will be a name to watch develop in the Heisman race next year.
Dorial Green-Beckham had a rough start to his Missouri career this season falling far short of expectations. He was suspended for a few games which hurt his freshman campaign as well, but it took him a few games to find the speed of college football.
By year's end, he was one of the better receivers in the SEC. He finished the year with 28 catches, 395 yards and five touchdowns.
Expect Green-Beckham to increase his catch and yardage numbers this coming year and captivate the country with the same circus catches that made him the highest rated recruit in the country just a year ago.
Missouri will find its groove in the SEC this year, and Green-Beckham will be a big part of the success.
Braxton Miller received all of the Buckeyes offensive hype this year, but Carlos Hyde earned his fair share of offense in the Horseshoe as well.
Hyde finished the year with 970 yards on 185 carries, averaging an impressive 5.2 yards per carry. He also added 16 touchdowns to his stat line to finish the year.
The Buckeyes will need for Hyde to come along strong in his senior year if they want to contend for the Big Ten again this coming year. Miller needs the balance.
With the talent that Hyde has, and the hype the Buckeyes will carry into the new year, don’t be surprised if Hyde finishes the season sitting in New York.
Dri Archer was the most explosive running back in the country last year. He burst onto the scene averaging nine yards per carry and scoring 16 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 39 passes for 561 yards and four touchdowns.
Archer put the Kent State Golden Flashes in the highlight reels with his runs and helped them finish the year in the Top 25.
The Golden Flashes will look to return to the BCS talk this year, and with Archer in the backfield, it’s a real possibility. He has the talent to finish the season on the Heisman ballots across the country.
Austin Hill crept onto the scene last year as one of the nation’s most dangerous receiving threats. He helped turn the Arizona offense into the Rich Rodriguez offenses of old and helped Matt Scott work into the starting quarterback position.
Hill finished the year with 81 receptions and 1,364 yards. He also snagged 11 touchdowns through the air. He finished 2012 as the seventh most productive receiver in the country.
Arizona will transition in a new quarterback again this season, but this rising junior has the skills to make it an easy change of guard. Expect big things from Hill this coming season, and don’t be surprised if he is the talk of the Pac-12 by years end.
Chuckie Keeton has quietly become one of the best quarterbacks in the country. His time at Utah State has been nothing short of amazing, pushing the Aggies to the top of their conference and an 11-win record.
This year he put up great numbers, passing for 3,373 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also rushed for 619 yards on 129 attempts for eight touchdowns. Keeton is a stud.
At this point, he hasn’t received a lot of national hype, but a 41-15 bowl-win over Toledo helped his national-awareness factor. This guy is a great signal-caller and has two years left with the Aggies.
His name will join the discussion for the Heisman by mid-year.
Hundley was one of the most impressive freshmen in the game this year and put together an amazing season for the Bruins.
He passed for 3,740 yards and 29 touchdowns for the Bruins. He also added 355 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground for the Bruins offense.
The Pac-12 has a number of top athletes, but what Hundley is able to do in L.A. is impressive. Jim Mora Jr. has a solid offensive plan that will keep Hundley at the top of the national stat sheets this fall.
His name will land in the Heisman talk within the first few weeks and after a couple of wins appear under his belt.