The annual race for the Heisman Trophy rarely goes how the experts think it will. We almost always see a candidate or two come out of nowhere to become a serious contender or even win the award outright.
The 2016 college football season is not likely to be any different. Everyone has their list of front-runners, but most of those lists look the same. Here are some outrageous predictions about the 2016 Heisman Trophy race that will render most-if-not-all of those preseason lists wrong.
Outrageous Predictions for the 2016 Heisman Trophy Race
No running backs will be invited to New York
Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffery are getting a ton of Heisman love right now. They should soak it up while they can. All three face schedules full of opponents that know these running backs are coming. The same opponents also know that the easiest way to beat their respective teams is to shut those players down.
McCaffery has the best chance of proving me wrong based on his versatility, but he'll have an uphill climb in that regard. Cook may not get enough touches and Fournette is going to run into some of the more talented defenses in the country throughout the season. I'm not sure there are any other running backs with the preseason hype strong enough to roll into a legit Heisman campaign without putting up historical numbers.
At least two players from the Group of Five will get invites
There are a handful of teams in the Group of Five that are going to make a lot of noise nationally. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is a guy who is going to get plenty of attention for both his play and his team's success. If he comes anywhere close to the production he had in 2015, he's a lock for an invite. Other candidates who could grab enough attention between their induvial stats and the success of their teams are Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers and Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis.
At least one primarily defensive player will get an invite
As popular as the quarterback and running backs are projected to be in 2016, some of the biggest and brightest stars in the game are likely to play on the other side of the ball. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers will likely be used on defense and offense, giving him a leg up on the competition and increasing his chances of making some highlight-reel plays. Iowa cornerback and 2015 Thorpe Award winner Desmond King also excels in the return game. If he takes a couple to the house, he'll be in the conversation. Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett has the ability to put up some pretty gaudy sack numbers that very well could vault him into the discussion for an invite to New York.
Other defenders to keep an eye on in terms of crashing the party in the Big Apple are Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell and Florida defensive end Cece Jefferson.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.