Ranking the top 10 Heisman candidates by conference: The ACC

Continuing with the series, here’s my look at the 10 players from the ACC with the best chance of winning the Heisman. Remember, this is not to say that all of them are legit candidates in 2012. It is merely a 10-deep ranking of their odds at winning. The ACC is so lacking in Heisman potential, one has to dig deep…

The Contenders

1. Tajh Boyd, Clemson — Boyd is coming off a sophomore season in which he threw 33 touchdown passes and he benefits from Chad Morris, the best offensive coordinator in the league, calling the plays. He’s also got one of the best receiving corps in the country at his disposal, so an RG3 type of season where he elevates his team into the national spotlight isn’t out of the question.

The Dark Horses

2. E.J. Manuel, Florida State — Manuel had a spotty junior year, consisting of flashes of brilliance mixed with maddening inconsistency. However, FSU is a traditional Heisman power and if he puts it all together as a senior and leads the Seminoles back into the top 5 or 10, he can emerge as a legitimate candidate.

3. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech — Thomas is a superb physical specimen hamstrung by a somewhat basic offensive scheme that doesn’t always enable Tech quarterbacks to put up Heisman-worthy numbers. But if he can help Tech win the ACC title while beating some good teams along the way, he might figure in the Heisman conversation.

4. Sammy Watkins, Clemson — Watkins might be the best receiver in the country and he’s also an explosive special teams performer. He had 83 catches for 1,225 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman and he should improve upon those numbers in 2012.

The Long Shots

5. Bryn Renner, North Carolina — He had a strong sophomore year with 26 touchdown passes and a 68 percent completion rate, which could portend bigger things to come.

6. Andre Ellington, Clemson — Ellington is a breakaway back who had 1,178 yards last season. If he can hold off talented sophomore Mike Bellamy, look for him to improve his production in 2012.

7. Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech — The leader of the Tech triple option will put up big numbers on the ground, for sure, but he’ll need to improve his passing yardage to be a factor.

8. James Wilder, Florida State — Wilder may not even be the main back for the ‘Noles this year, but if he wins the starting job he might get a chance to showcase his considerable talent. He’s got a name that voters recognize, too.

9. Chase Rettig, Boston College — Rettig was solid as sophomore, so maybe he makes a jump as a junior and brings BC back to respectability.

10. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina — Bernard had an impressive freshman year, running for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns. Maybe he’s the next great Tar Heel back.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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