As June rolls in, we have a few months until we get really ACTUALLY serious about the 2018 college football season. But it's never to early to start looking at Heisman Trophy candidates.
Louisville super-human Lamar Jackson brought it home for the ACC a season ago, but history tells us he's unlikely to do so again. So which ACC stars could win college football's most prestigious award in the upcoming campaign?
Most of the current Heisman favorites like USC's Sam Darnold and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield come from outside of the ACC, but we all know that could change in a hurry. So lets take a look at the most probable selections from ACC football.
5. Miami RB Mark Walton
Sure, he's a bit of a darkhorse when you survey the nation's running back crop with names like Nick Chubb and Saquon Barkley in the mix, but Walton is clearly the Hurricanes' best offensive weapon heading into the 2017 season and his skillset shouldn't be overlooked.
With a sub-par offensive line in 2016, the Miami RB rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. Walton is a patient runner with the ability to cut quickly and make defenders miss, but still has a second-gear of speed when he hits the second level. There's been a ton of hype around Miami in Mark Richt's second season and Walton is a big reason for the optimism.
4. N.C. State LB Bradley Chubb
I'm fully aware there hasn't been a defensive player to claim the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997, but when I see a rare talent who constantly wreaks havoc it's hard to pass him over. Chubb is coming off a year where he recorded 10 sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection.
If the Wolfpack senior can emerge as one of the top defensive players in the country (and I believe he can), than his name should absolutely be mentioned in the Heisman conversation.
3. Florida State QB Deondre Francois
Francois looked raw and uncomfortable at the start of his freshman campaign, but blossomed as the season progressed. The FSU dual-threat QB wrapped up the 2016 outing with 3,350 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
With a full season behind him to master the playbook, Francois has a chance to emerge as the premiere quarterback in a conference with many unknowns when it comes to signal callers. He has a ton of weapons around him and could easily become a Heisman frontrunner.
2. Florida State DB Derwin James
Remember what I said about defensive players and the Heisman? James is a generational talent that has the skiillset to become the nation's top defensive player in 2017. As a freshman, the dynamic safety recorded 52 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
He was out all last season after suffering an injury in September, but all reports from Tallahassee say James is back and better than ever. You have to be a constant playmaker to claim college football's most coveted prize as a defender and James is just that.
1. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
This might be the easy No. 1 choice, but I would be a fool to pass over Jackson's chance to win the Heisman in back-to-back seasons. The Cardinals quarterback was literally unstoppable in 2016, throwing for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,571 and another 22 scores. The Cardinals' signal caller shined week after week no matter how much an opposing defensive coordinator tried to prepare.
Sure, teams will have a better blueprint in 2017 for containing Jackson, but I'm not convinced it will matter. That kind of athleticism wins more times than not, and I could easily see the Louisville QB captivating the nation once again.