Translated: There is no true Heisman candidate in the ACC this season.
At least not in August there isn’t. Not when former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson is suiting up for Wisconsin and there are more rookie quarterbacks in the ACC than the conference has BCS bowl wins.
That’s not to say there aren’t dark horse Heisman candidates who can earn national recognition if certain teams (read: Boston College) win big. If the ACC is going to produce a legitimate Heisman candidate, it will most likely come from the ACC champion. So let’s start with the league frontrunners as we take a look at the ACC’s top three dark horse Heisman candidates for 2011:
1. Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel: Manuel led Florida State in completion percentage last season (69.9), and has already started in the ACC title game and won two bowl games. This will be his first season as a full-time starter, though, and how he handles that new role could be the difference in an ACC title and a national title.
2. Virginia Tech running back David Wilson: With the early departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, there’s no question he’s going to get the bulk of the carries, and there’s little doubt the Hokies will be a conference contender again. He’s got a veteran offensive line to pave the way for him and has already shown home run capabilities.
3. Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly: He’s got so many things going for him but he also has two major strikes against him -- he’s a defender and he plays for a program that’s under the national radar. He’s an unanimous All-American, though, and one of the top tacklers in the country. Montel Harris has been the heart of BC’s offense during his time there, but Kuechly is the best player on the team.