At this time last year no one outside of College Station knew much about Texas A&M's soon-to-be Heisman winner. So while the usual suspects fill preseason prediction lists, here's a roster of players who are a long way from New York City but could replicate Manziel's rise and make an out-of-nowhere run at the Heisman Trophy
25 TO 1
Florida State, QB, Freshman
WHO HE IS After a redshirt year, he exploded in the spring game, throwing for a 58-yard touchdown on his first play and finishing with two TDs and 205 yards with only three incompletions.
WHY HE HAS A SHOT The Seminoles bring back two of their top three rushers and three of their top four receivers, plus the bulk of the offensive line.
100 TO 1
Utah State, QB, Junior
WHO HE IS Keeton tallied 619 rushing and 3,373 passing yards last season, leading the Aggies to their first win over Utah in 15 years and their first outright Mountain West championship since 1936.
WHY HE HAS A SHOT He enters 2013 as Utah State's career leader in completion rate (65.6%), and he has all five starting offensive linemen returning.
50 TO 1
Miami, RB, Sophomore
WHO HE IS Johnson broke Clinton Portis's freshman rushing record, in 2012. With only five starts, he ran for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns while amassing 892 kick-return yards, a program record.
WHY HE HAS A SHOT He's poised to become the featured back this fall, having bulked up to 5'9", 196 pounds. Talented quarterback Stephen Morris will keep foes from keying on Johnson.
100 TO 1
Fresno State, QB, Senior
WHO HE IS He threw for a Mountain West--record 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns with only seven picks last year, and his career completion rate of 65.2% is a school best.
WHY HE HAS A SHOT Most of Carr's weapons are back, including conference-leading receiver Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse (851 yards in '12). With 3,049 yards, Carr will set the school's passing record.
75 TO 1
Kent State, RB, Senior
WHO HE IS He led the Golden Flashes in receiving, rushing and kick returns. He earned All-America honors for returning kicks (36.9-yard average, three TDs) and set a program record with 23 touchdowns.
WHY HE HAS A SHOT He'll work his magic on a national stage: The Golden Flashes play consecutive nonconference road games at LSU and Penn State.
75 TO 1
Maryland, WR, Sophomore
WHO HE IS His 1,896 all-purpose yards were second most in school history, and per game they averaged out to eighth best in the country.
WHY HE HAS A SHOT He ranked in the ACC's top five in receiving, kick-return and punt-return average. And his production as a wideout should improve now that senior quarterback C.J. Brown is back from a torn ACL.
150 TO 1
Kyle Van Noy
BYU, LB, Senior
WHO HE IS He led BYU with 22 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in 2012 and dominated in a 23--6 Poinsettia Bowl win over San Diego State (an interception return for a TD, 1½ sacks, a forced fumble).
WHY HE HAS A SHOT With a standout campaign against a daunting schedule that includes Texas, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, the Cougars' defensive leader could raise his profile just enough.
Illustration by Guy Stauber
GEORGE FREY/AP (KEETON)
ROBERT MAYER/US PRESSWIRE (JOHNSON)
CARY EDMONDSON/US PRESSWIRE (CARR)
G.M. ANDREWS/AP (ARCHER)
ANDREW SHURTLEFF/ZUMAPRESS.COM (DIGGS)
KEVIN REECE/ICON SMI (VAN NOY)