ACC’s Heisman Chances look a little slim for 2018

If sportsbettingdime.com’s early 2018 Heisman Trophy odds are to be believed, next year won’t see the third ACC winner in the last six years. FSU’s Jameis Winston and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson won the award in 2013 and 2016, respectively, but heading into 2018, the top ACC candidate is Clemson’s senior QB, Kelly Bryant, at 25/1, followed by Noles QB Deondre Francois at 30/1. No other ACC players made their list.

The top 20 is dominated by quarterbacks, and QBs have won seven of the last eight Heismans. The only running backs on the list are Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin, 14/1), D’Andre Swift (Georgia: 14/1), and Bryce Love (Stanford, 15/1).

But with Jackson departing for the NFL next season and Francois coming back from a significant injury, the most likely ACC winner may actually be an under-the-radar running back, and there are a couple to choose from.

Cam Akers did some fantastic things for Florida State last year as a true freshman, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring eight touchdowns for an offense that was forced to start another freshman at QB. Opposing defenses were keying on the FSU run game, and still Akers was able to find consistent success. His stats are eerily reminiscent of the freshman numbers put up by the Seminoles’ last great running back, Dalvin Cook. Francois and Akers gives the Noles two high-end offensives players, but if Akers turns into the focal point of the offense behind a top-ten FSU team, expect his name to pop up on future Heisman lists.

Meanwhile, after years of bland offensive performances under Steve Addazio, Boston College managed some explosive games on that side of the ball thanks to their own freshman sensation, AJ Dillon. The (6’0, 240 pounds) running back won First-Team All-ACC honors and should have 80% of his offensive line back next season, minus only senior guard Sam Schmal. If he improves upon his 1,589 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns from 2017, and BC becomes a top ACC team, he will be in the Heisman conversation.

Remember it wasn’t long ago (2013) that BC had another Heisman contending running backs – 2000 yard rusher Andre Williams. AJ Dillion has a chance to be the next one.

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