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Tuesday, December 14, 2010
ACC's 2011 Heisman hopefuls

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Nah, it's never too early.

The problem with this discussion is the unknown decisions of three key players -- NC State quarterback Russell Wilson, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers and Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams.

If any or all of them return, they have the potential to play their way into the 2011 Heisman conversation.

The odds of the ACC producing a true Heisman candidate next season will depend a lot upon if he's playing for a championship-caliber team. Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, for example, is that good -- his All-America status is proof. But in order for him to be seriously considered for the Heisman Trophy, BC would have to win the ACC title. Bowers was good enough this year to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player, despite the fact he was on a 6-6 team. Would he have gotten some Heisman love if the Tigers were in the Orange Bowl? His chances would have at least increased significantly.

If you follow me on Twitter @ESPN_ACC, I gave you guys a chance to weigh in, and Bowers, Virginia Tech's David Wilson, and Russell Wilson generated the most responses. There were also a few in favor of FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel, Andre Ellington, Maryland receiver Torrey Smith if he returns, and Miami running back Lamar Miller.

There is no one obvious choice, though -- no one player right now heading into 2011 who stands out as the face of the ACC.