2. Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
One could make a compelling case for Dalvin Cook being a Heisman finalist in 2015. As a sophomore, Florida State’s star back rushed for 1,691 yards on just 229 carries — an average of 7.4 yards per attempt. Among ball-carriers with at least 200 attempts, only Georgia State’s Matt Brieda was more effective.
Cook’s not only a leading ACC Heisman contender, but probably one of the five top overall candidates heading into the fall. His physical attributes surely play a part, but Florida State head coach Fisher touted Cook’s field IQ for the running back’s impressive play-making ability.
“A lot of guys, fast guys who I used to coach, they get the ball, and as soon as you give it to them, they run real fast, and they run [without thinking],” Fisher told Sports Illustrated this spring. “Dalvin, he gets it, and [he’s just] looking, looking, looking, boom.”
1. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
2015 Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson is the nation’s leading contender for the award ahead of a new campaign, say nothing of just the ACC.
Clemson’s dual-threat dynamo finished behind Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey in last year’s vote, but may well have won in any other year. He closed the year with a staggering 4,104 yards passing and another 1,105 rushing. Put all those yards together, and they total about three miles.
Tally up Watson’s 47 touchdowns — 35 passing and 12 on the ground — and the 282-point total equals a per-game average roughly the same as NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns’ output.
Why am I using non-football parlance to quantify Watson’s numbers in 2015? Because, frankly, he was unlike much of anything football’s ever seen.