Darkhorse Heisman Hopefuls: Players in the shadows of Heisman-worthy teammates

Nick The OnlyAnalyst IJuly 18, 2008

Every year you see hundreds of Heisman predictions from various publications, blogs and websites.  The majority of these prognosticators are choosing popular names like Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno, Ohio St. RB Beanie Wells, Missouri QB Chase Daniels and 2007 Heisman Winner Tim Tebow as favorites to win the Heisman. 

All of the favorites are worthy candidates who are likely to have very impressive seasons.  They all also play for national title contenders and are each likely to be the go-to guy on their respective teams.

If each of these teams gets the production expected out of their Heisman hopeful, they will be in a good position to challenge for a BCS title game invite.  But what about the other guys on these national title contenders?  What about the guys who play 2nd or 3rd fiddle to these Heisman hopefuls?  I'm suggesting that if one of these teams can get Heisman quality production from someone other than their preseason Heisman favorite, that team will be a near lock for the BCS title game.

The List:

1.  Matthew Stafford (QB - Georgia Bulldogs)

Imagine Georgia's chances at a national title if Stafford has a Heisman-worthy season.  Knowshon Moreno is more or less a provencommodity who should give the Bulldogs around 1500 yards and double digit TDs.  If Stafford can increase his accuracy and production to merit Heisman consideration, the Bulldogs will have a nearly unstoppable offense.  If you pair a balanced offensive attack with a premier SEC defense, you have a team that is almost certain to win a national title.

2.  Any Florida Running Back

We all expect Tim Tebow to have another amazing year.  He should get less carries this year, but is also likely to pass the ball more with the addition of several speedy playmakers.  Florida's offense looks to be one of the best in the nation with Tebow at the helm.  We also know that Percy Harvin (who is getting his own Heisman attention) will be giving defenses fits all season.  Now can you imagine how unstoppable Florida will be if a RB steps up and has a Heisman worthy season?  I see two likely candidates on Florida's roster: Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody.  

Chris Rainey is a small running back with 4.24 speed.  Moody is more of an every down back with a versatile skill set.  At this point I cannot say which one will get the bulk of the carries, but I do know that if either has Heisman caliber stats, the Gators will be all but impossible to stop.

3.  Jeremy Maclin(WR - Missouri Tigers) 

Chase Daniel is really good.  Jeremy Maclin is really good.  Daniel to Maclin is a lethal combination.  I don't think that Maclin's receiving talents alone will get him the stats necessary for Heisman consideration.  Also, every receiving statistic that Maclin gets will also be a passing statistic for Daniel, which only boost Daniel's Heisman chances. 

Where Maclin stands to gain the most ground on a Heisman trophy is in the return game.  If Maclin has ridiculous return stats this year, he will put himself into Heisman contention and give his team a very real chance at a BCS title birth.

4.  Todd Boeckman (QB - Ohio State)

How good would Ohio State be if Boeckman explodes for a Heisman caliber season?  Probably finally-winning-a-BCS-title-again good.  Of all of these less-heralded candidates, Boeckman is the least flashy.  But he also plays on arguably the best team.  If Boeckman can cut down on his INTs and throw for another 1000 yards and a handful more TDS, he could get Heisman mention. 

Boeckman is basically in the same situation as Stafford at Georgia.  He's got a proven RB, a great line, and a great defense.  Because all of those pieces are already in place, if Boeckman has a Heisman-worthy season you might as well book tOSU's ticket to the national title game.