- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Between Manti Te'o's 2012 run and Jadaveon Clowney's 2013 promise, so much of the conversation surrounding the Heisman Trophy has been the seemingly inevitable moment when a pure defensive player will capture the trophy. Te'o was the closest to ever do it, gaining 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points in losing to Johnny Manziel in 2012. And Clowney's monstrous hit of Michigan's Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl has set the stage for a season in which Clowney will likely have the opportunity to play himself into serious Heisman contention.
But the award has still belonged to players on the other side of the ball, and a recent well-regarded preseason watch lists only re-affirms that.
The Heisman Pundit, Chris Huston, has released his initial 30-man watch list for the 2013 award, and Notre Dame has one representative on it: Everett Golson.
Golson enters his third year at the school and second year as the starter, this after a 12-1 season that saw him amass 2,703 yards of offense, score 18 total touchdowns, complete 58.8 percent of his passes and turn the ball over 10 times.
The Irish return eight starters from what was the nation's second-best scoring defense in 2012, including potential first-round picks Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt, but the quarterback is the man that has the chance for the biggest spotlight.
In fact, Clowney is the only defensive player among the 30 listed on the watch list, as there are 19 quarterbacks, eight running backs and two wide receivers.
Video had surfaced this offseason of Clowney sacking Golson on the first play of the 2010 South Carolina High School League AAA title game, a game that Golson's Myrtle Beach team ended up winning. Golson, much more comfortable entering his second season in the spotlight, gave a confident and complimentary answer when asked early this spring if he was quietly rooting for the fellow Palmetto State native to win the Heisman in 2013.
"I hope he does, but at the same time, I think I'm pushing for the same thing," Golson said. "I know it's maybe a goal some may say is a little bit far-fetched, but I want to be the best competitor I can be. So I want to see him do great, but I also want to be there at the same time."
As for other familiar names on Huston's list? Oklahoma's Blake Bell, Michigan's Devin Gardner, Stanford's Kevin Hogan and USC's Marqise Lee are all players Notre Dame will face this year. Miami's Duke Johnson, Alabama's A.J. McCarron and T.J. Yeldon, meanwhile, all played against the Irish last season.
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