Published June 14, 2011 - 10:44am
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Last Friday, we all learned how John Brantley is on a dark-horse Heisman list over at The Mothership. ESPN just released another off-the-radar Heisman list.
These are more concrete and visibly attainable than the previous list, although I did agree with the Tyler Wilson shout out.
Remember, these are dark-horse candidates who could come out of no where much like Cam Newton did in 2010.
Here is the list ESPN blogger Edward Aschoff recently published:
Jeff Demps, RB, Florida: A year ago, he was considered an outright Heisman candidate but was ineffective for most of the season after suffering a stress fracture in his foot early in the season. This fall, he won’t be asked to carry the ball 20 times, and the pressure will be off him. He’ll be used in space and won’t be so beat up this fall. A healthy, rested Demps is a dangerous Demps. He has had carries for 60-plus yards four times in his career, including a long of 72 and his coaches will look to put him in situations where he can get to the outside and use that world-class speed to beat defenders.
Caleb King, RB, Georgia: King could be really off the radar. He might not even be the starter by the midpoint of the season if incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell has his way. But this is King’s final ride in a Bulldogs uniform and he’ll start the season as the go-to -guy in Georgia’s backfield. He has the skill to be a top back in the league, but he has to get over the hump of underachieving. If King excels, he could be the key to helping this team compete for a SEC East title.
Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU: Like Brantley, Jefferson’s numbers were laughable in 2010. But he has a new offensive coordinator in Steve Kragthorpe, who worked tirelessly with him to improve his mechanics and presence. Head coach Les Miles said Jefferson had the best spring of his career at LSU, but the jury is still out on what he could do this fall. There are adequate weapons around him who should put up solid numbers and his maturity isn’t in question. If Jefferson is as improved as LSU’s camp says he is, the Tigers will be right in the thick of the SEC West title until the very end.
Chris Relf, QB, Mississippi State: Relf is probably the most athletic quarterback in the SEC. He passed for 1,789 yards and 13 touchdowns, while rushing for 713 yards and five more scores. Relf ended the 2010 season with a lot of passing momentum by throwing for more than 200 yards in each of his last three games, after passing for more than 200 yards just once before that. The Bulldogs are a trendy pick in the West and Relf is the guy who will put a lot of the offense on his shoulders. If he can keep improving as a passer, he’ll put up good numbers with the wealth of receiving talent around him.
Stephen Garcia, QB, South Carolina: You could argue that at one point he was just a regular Heisman candidate. However, with his spring suspension and the uncertainty of what he could do off the field, Garcia is stuck in this category. If Garcia can finally step up as a true leader for his team and cut down on some of his crippling mistakes, he could be get into the Heisman conversation. Garcia has to prove that he’s a changed individual away from the field as well.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee: Hunter didn’t catch a boatload of passes last season, but when he did, he seemed to always make a beeline toward the end zone. Of his 16 receptions, seven went for touchdowns, including a long of 80 yards. He’s going to be a top target for quarterback Tyler Bray and will have more opportunities to make plays now that he’s moved up the depth chart.
I do love the fact that Jeff Demps, Steven Garcia and Justin Hunter are all on this list.
Jeff Demps will be the man in this Florida running game, and he will have every opportunity to succeed at that position for the Gators.
The Justin Hunter pick is awesome as well. He has an absolute gunslinger at quarterback in Tyler Bray, and he looks to be Bray’s biggest weapon at receiver coming into this fall.
Steven Garcia has every opportunity to succeed in the Gamecocks’ offense. He has a great head coach with great play calling ability in Steve Spurrier, he has a running game that will be one of the best in the SEC in Marcus Lattimore, and he has the best wide receiver in the country Alshon Jeffery. If he can stand up and avoid being a knucklehead this season in Columbia, there could be big numbers being put at that position for the Gamecocks.