It’s been 13 long years since the Atlantic Coast Conference has produced a Heisman Trophy winner. Florida State QB Chris Weinke was the last to take home the bronze statue in 2000. This year may be one of the best chances in years for that stat to change. And, those hopes rest solely on the broad shoulders of the reigning Chick-Fil-A Bowl MVP, Clemson Tigers QB, Tajh Boyd.
Boyd, a 6’1″ 225lb. redshirt Senior from Hampton, Virginia, has made quite a few statements since arriving on the scene full-time back in 2011. As of today, Boyd holds the conference records for most total touchdowns in a season (38) and most career passing touchdowns (50). And, with a whole year left to play since announcing his intentions to return, he may only inflate those records even more before he leaves the South Carolina school. But while conference records are certainly something to hang your proverbial hat on, to become a serious Heisman contender, you need to announce yourself to the nation. In the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Boyd did just that.
Going in to the New Years Eve contest, not many people in the nation gave Clemson much of a chance to hang with the SEC powerhouse, LSU Tigers. Actually, bringing up even the slightest chance of Clemson making it a close game was laughable to some people. When the game started, however, those people were introduced to Mr. Boyd and they were no longer laughing, they were watching.
Completing a highly impressive 36 of 50 passes for 346 yards and zero interceptions against the vaunted LSU defense, there was no better way for Boyd to show the world at that particular moment that he’s one of the top players in the nation. Even with the attention of the college football world turned towards eventual 2012 Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel, it was near impossible to ignore Boyd on that night. The only question was, would Boyd even afford himself the opportunity of coming back in 2013 and testing the Heisman race, or would he depart for greener NFL pastures?
In an NFL Draft short on signal callers this year, it would’ve made perfect sense for the ultra talented Clemson QB to take off. However, he decided that he wanted one more shot to take the Tigers to glory. Second ACC title in three years, Heisman Trophy, National Championship, make no mistake about it, all of those are capable of becoming a reality in 2013. And, it starts with Boyd picking up where he left off on New Years Eve.
Boyd and Clemson begin the 2013 season against the 2012 SEC runner-up, Georgia Bulldogs. It would be terrific for Boyd if he can lead the Tigers to their second straight upset of an SEC powerhouse. But, is that a necessity to Boyd’s Heisman campaign? No, not necessarily, but it would certainly put him right at the top of the list instantly. With Georgia expected to be ranked within the top three going into that game, an impressive performance by Tajh in that game would put the nation on notice.
All in all, looking through the entire conference, Boyd truly is the one with the best chance to take the coveted New York trip and come home with the trophy. Could there also be a dark horse within the conference that could emerge throughout next season? Absolutely, there’s always that possibility. But I feel bad for anyone trying to outshine a focused Tajh Boyd.
Jack is a College Football Contributor for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @FSUYankee1