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Heisman Watch: Ranking the ACC's Top Candidates for 2020

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Heisman Watch: Ranking the ACC's Top Candidates for 2020

Heisman Watch: Ranking the ACC's Top Candidates for 2020

Since 1935, the Heisman Trophy has been awarded to the best college football player in America each and every year. We are all hoping that, come December, the award will be handed out for the 82nd time.

Entering the fall, the ACC has a few of the top Heisman candidates, including the odds-on favorite. While quarterbacks and ball carriers are always the central figures, there are a couple of receivers and a defensive player that are capable of putting up eye-popping numbers.

2020 Heisman Watch by Power 5 Conference: ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC

Here are 10 ACC players who could challenge for the Heisman Trophy.

10. Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest

Prior to injuring his shoulder, Surratt caught 66 passes for 1,001 in just nine games and also reached the end zone 11 times. He will not have Jamie Newman throwing him the ball this year, but Sam Hartman is a capable quarterback, and Dave Clawson's team likes to play fast, giving the star receiver more opportunities.

9. David Bailey, RB, Boston College

As a reserve last season, Bailey ran for 844 yards and seven scores. With AJ Dillon now in the NFL, Bailey becomes the featured back and he will be aided by a strong offensive line led by tackles Tyler Vrabel and Ben Petrula.

8. Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

Last season, Ohio State's Chase Young finished fourth in the Heisman balloting after registering 16.5 sacks. Just one sack behind him was Rousseau, who achieved that total as a redshirt freshman. With Quincy Roche and his 13 sacks transferring to Miami from Temple, opponents cannot focus entirely on stopping Rousseau.

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7. Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville

Atwell may be small, but he is an electric home run hitter. As a sophomore, the Cards receiver averaged 18.4 yards on his 69 receptions, while catching 11 touchdown passes. For receivers to make a run at the Heisman, they generally need to do something in the return game, and Atwell has the skills to excel in this area if given the chance. He only returned four punts in 2019 but he took them back at an average of 21 yards per try.

6. Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville

Running backs have a much better shot at the award, so Hawkins may be the Louisville player with the best chance. As a redshirt freshman, Hawkins earned All-ACC honors after running for 1,525 yards and nine touchdowns. Louisville returns three of his blockers up front, but replacing tackle Mekhi Becton will be difficult.

5. D'Eriq King, QB, Miami

In 2018 at Houston, King threw for 36 touchdowns against just six interceptions, while rushing for 674 yards and 14 more scores. After sitting out most of last year to preserve a year of eligibility, King steps into one of the marquee spots in college football. If he replicates those numbers as the quarterback at Miami, he will be squarely in the Heisman conversation.

4. Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame

With the Irish in the ACC for at least this season, Book becomes one of the conference's best-known commodities. Stats wise, his 2019 numbers rivaled King's in 2018 (34 touchdowns, six interceptions, and 546 yards rushing). And as the quarterback at Notre Dame, no one is on a bigger stage on a week in, week out basis than Book.

3. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Howell had a monstrous true freshman campaign, throwing for 38 touchdowns and over 3,600 yards. Year two should be at least as good, especially with 1,000-yard receivers Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown returning along with running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, a duo that combined for nearly 2,000 rushing yards. With four starters back on the line, Carolina has the makings of an explosive offense with Howell as its centerpiece.

2. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

There are few running backs who are as consistent as Etienne. In each of the past two seasons, the Jennings, Louisiana, native has run for over 1,600 yards. There are also few ball carriers in America who are as explosive as the Clemson star. His 17 carries of 20+ yards in 2019 ranked sixth in the land, and his 23 in 2018 put him at No. 2.

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

In his two years at Clemson, Lawrence has lost just one game: last season's championship contest to LSU. He has completed over 65 percent of his throws for 66 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. With only one starter returning up front and personnel losses out wide, there will be a new crew helping Lawrence this year. But as the projected top pick in the next NFL Draft, he is also the top Heisman candidate.

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.