Every college football fan loves a good Heisman Trophy debate, but determining pre-season candidates is never as easy as it seems. Today we will look at 5 under the radar guys that could spring into Heisman contention this fall.
We all know about JaDeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron, Braxton Miller, Teddy Bridgewater, Todd Gurley, and the other common names that have come up in Heisman candidate conversations.
But who had Manziel on their watch list last July? It was supposed to be a Matt Barkley/Landry Jones/Montee Ball race to New York. RG3 was far from a household name in the summer of 2011, with Kellen Moore, Andrew Luck, LaMichael James, and Trent Richardson getting the hype. Cam Newton came from virtually nowhere in 2010 with returning winner Mark Ingram most people's pre-season pick.
So who is off the radar in 2013? Here are some guys on some teams that can contend that could become the next household name in college football.
5). Blake Bell, Oklahoma - Although Bell has not officially been named the starter in Norman, it's believed that the former head of the "Belldozer" package will be Coach Bob Stoops guy this fall. At 6'6, 265, Bell is an excellent athlete that can throw the ball well, despite only making 16 throws in 2012. Bell had 11 rushing TDs last year and appears ready to take the reigns from Landry Jones and possibly make a run at a Heisman Trophy as well.
4). Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida - Already one of the top returning DBs in the SEC, Coach Will Muschamp has mentioned this summer that Purifoy will also have a role on offense. This will give Purifoy, a tremendous athlete, a chance to shine in many different ways this fall. If the Gators start fast, the Heisman hype will follow. And as you can see in the clip below, he's not bad on special teams either.
3). Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska - Abdullah appears to be the top rushing option for a Huskers team that wants to run and should be in the Big 10 title hunt again in '13. Abdullah was spectacular last season, running for 1,137 yards and 8 TDs while averaging 5 yards per carry. No OSU on the schedule this year coupled with 5 home games to start the season means Abdullah could quickly get in the Heisman hunt with a quick start.
2). Rakeem Cato, Marshall - Cato is a guy who is really off the radar, but is a phenomenal player. Cato topped 4,000 yards and threw 37 TDs last season and was named C-USA Player of the Year. His top 2 targets are back as well, meaning Cato should once again be slinging the ball up and down the field, and another strong conference run may push him onto the Heisman map.
1). Brett Hundley, UCLA - Hundley had a very strong rookie season last year, leading the Bruins to the PAC-12 Title game while throwing for 3,700 yards and 29 TDs. While Marcus Mariota will receive most of the Pac-12 hype, expect Hundley to improve in '13 and have UCLA back in the hunt for a BCS game.