ACC Heisman Five

(Photo by Gregory Fisher, USA Today Images)

Rich Cirminiello of Campus Insiders for

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The ACC has never been home to back-to-back Heisman winners, but that could change in 2014.

Thank you, Jameis.

Lurking behind the Florida State sophomore is a growing line of contenders, including a handful within the conference, hoping to dethrone him this December.

5. QB Anthony Boone, Duke
Boone is the pilot of the defending Coastal Division champs. And he’s no longer sharing snaps with versatile Brandon Connette, who transferred to Fresno State during the offseason. Boone has picked up where he left off in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, accounting for seven touchdowns and no picks in the first two Blue Devil wins.
Trending … Steady
Next Up : Kansas

4. QB Will Gardner, Louisville
Gardner has aced his early tests as the triggerman of Bobby Petrino’s offense, throwing four touchdown passes and no interceptions. But now the stakes get higher versus an opportunistic Virginia D that’s already silenced one Heisman candidate, UCLA QB Brett Hundley. Gardner is going to evolve as the season unfolds, particularly with star WR DeVante Parker expected back for the stretch run.
Trending … Steady
Next Up : at Virginia

3. RB Duke Johnson, Miami
The old Johnson has returned, fully mended from last November’s ankle surgery. He’s back to schooling opposing defenses with his sharp cuts, boundless energy and explosions through the hole. Now Johnson just needs a little more help from an embryonic passing attack that’s going to allow opposing defenses to key on him and the rest of the Cane backs.
Trending … Steady
Next Up : Arkansas State

2. RB James Conner, Pittsburgh
One of the revelations of the first two weeks, Conner has already scored five times, while ranking second nationally with 367 rushing yards. He’s averaging more than seven yards per carry, testament to his uncommon agility for a 6-2, 250-pounder. Conner will deliver a ton of highlight-reel moments this fall showing him barreling over defenders or stiff-arming his way to additional yards.
Trending … Up
Next Up : at Florida International

1. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
No, Winston hasn’t started as quickly as he did in 2013. But he remains the ACC’s top contender to keep the Heisman from leaving the confines of the conference. Sure, Winston uncharacteristically threw two picks in the opener with Oklahoma State, but he also snapped off a sensational 28-yard touchdown run in the same game. His campaign to repeat goes into overdrive with next week’s Clemson visit.
Trending … Down
Next Up : Clemson (Sept. 20)