Much of the focus in the world of college football this week is on SEC Media Days and–to a large degree–reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. In addition to winning the most coveted award in the game yearly, Manziel also took home the Davey O’Brien Award last year, honoring the nation’s top QB.
Johnny Football will be back to defend that trophy this season and on Wednesday the watch list was released for possible candidates to challenge the controversial Texas A&M Aggie for that particular award. Among the names on the list, four talented ACC signal callers, all with high expectations, were included.
Leading the group is Clemson Tigers senior QB Tajh Boyd. With national title and Heisman hopes resting on his shoulders, Boyd is more than capable of proving to be the best QB in the country. After a 2012 season that saw Boyd throw for over 3896 yards, 36 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions, the 6-1, 225-pounder is a clear-cut favorite from the ACC to challenge Manziel for the O’Brien trophy.
Next up is North Carolina Tar Heels senior Bryn Renner. Renner is one of the more under-looked passers in the nation. But, with his team now off sanctions that hindered their postseason chances last season, the third-ranked QB in North Carolina history is ready to make himself a household name. Renner was tremendous in 2012 for the 8-4 Heels, finishing the year with 3356 yards, 28 TDs and a mere seven picks.
Although Renner and Boyd have been looked upon by a lot of NFL scouts as being the most pro-ready, Miami Hurricanes senior Stephen Morris has been mentioned by a few as one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country. 3345 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2012 can certainly warrant that type of praise, as well as Morris landing on this list. With nine other starters returning with him on offense, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Hurricanes signal caller is still in the Davey O’Brien conversation come December.
Lastly, we have Virginia Tech Hokies senior Logan Thomas. While 2012 could be considered a down-year compared to his 2011 season, a lot of experts still put much stock into Thomas putting last season behind him and reverting back to the 3120 yards and 19 touchdown season he enjoyed during that ’11 run. Although I may not agree with Thomas being grouped with the other three on this list, he has the tools and the coaching to get the mistakes under control.
As much as some people might not want to hear this, while not officially on the watch list for obvious reasons, Florida State Seminoles redshirt freshman Jameis Winston could be a sleeper in this race. With a wealth of offensive talent around him as he progresses, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Winston to be considered one of the top-rated quarterbacks as we inch toward bowl season.
After all, last year’s O’Brien winner was a redshirt freshman.
Jack is the ACC College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS