8. Virginia Tech RB Travon McMillian
Virginia Tech’s had an impressive string of running backs in the last decade or so. With his standout debut season, Travon McMillian became the latest.
McMillian went for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015, carrying the ball 200 times. He added an eighth touchdown with one receiving score.
Justin Fuente infusing some high-octane fuel into Virginia Tech’s offense should super-charge McMillian’s numbers. Fuente’s approach at Memphis spread carries among a variety of players — five Tigers rushed 87 times or more, with only one reaching the century mark. Brandon Hayes hovered around the 200-carry mark in the two seasons prior.
McMillian’s unlikely to be a workhorse back in the vein of 2015 Heisman winner Derrick Henry, but a multifaceted offensive approach should open the field more to maximize McMillian’s touches. Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times breaks down McMillian’s long runs compared to recent Hokie standouts, and provides context contrasted against Fuente’s offenses at Memphis and TCU.
7. Clemson RB Wayne Gallman
Wayne Gallman shares a backfield with someone already generated a fair bit of Heisman chatter, but don’t sleep on the Tiger running back’s chances to contend for the award.
Gallman commanded national attention with his gutsy performance in the College Football Playoff championship, battling and battering his way through Alabama’s ballyhooed defense in a memorable title tilt.
Wayne Gallman is really on the "we will not lose because I will not let us lose" right now
— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) January 12, 2016
Gallman’s 1,527 yards and 13 touchdowns a season ago would have commanded more attention were he not in the same offense as ACC Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson. But, the success of one is paramount to the success of the other. Defenses being forced to focus attention on the quarterback could give Gallman new opportunities to break out in 2016.