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Posted: Thursday May 1, 2008 10:07AM; Updated: Friday May 2, 2008 11:55AM
Gene Menez Gene Menez >
HEISMAN WATCH

Ohio State's Wells is the man to beat in the 2008 campaign (cont.)

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6. Pat White, West Virginia, QB, Sr.

2007 Stats: 144-of-216 passing, 1,724 yards, 14 TDs, 4 INTs; 197 rushes, 1,335 yards, 14 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: No quarterback -- and few players period -- are as dynamic in the open field as White. But the question is, Will the passing skills catch up with his running prowess? White will be forced to improve on his aerial ability because there are hints coming out of Morgantown that those bubble screens he threw often last year will be replaced by more vertical patterns in new offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen's scheme. He'll also miss receiver Darius Reynaud and running backs Owen Schmitt and Steve Slaton, but especially Reynaud.

7. James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, LB, Sr.

2007 Stats: 121 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions.
Heisman-o-meter: Will he win it? Considering only one primarily defensive player (Michigan's Charles Woodson) has earned the Heisman, it's a safe bet that he won't, but that's no reason to leave the Butkus winner off the list. This linebacking animal has a knack for always being around the football, and he's the best player on what should be the nation's best defense on a team that should again be in the hunt for the BCS title. Another defensive player to consider is USC linebacker Rey Maualuga.

8. Joe McKnight, USC, RB, Soph.

2007 Stats: 94 rushes, 540 yards, 3 TDs; 23 receptions, 203 yards, 1 TD; 19 punt returns, 160 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: I realize I'm going out on a limb here, but what fun would this list be if it was just chalk, chalk, chalk? McKnight was USC's third-leading rusher last year, but when he got the ball, particularly in the Rose Bowl victory over Illinois (10 rushes for 125 yards and a touchdown), he was special. Stafon Johnson, who could be a Heisman candidate himself, may very well be the starter, but this is looking like another Reggie Bush-LenDale White situation, with McKnight in the role of Bush.

9. Percy Harvin, Florida, WR, Jr.

2007 Stats: 83 rushes, 764 yards, 6 TDs; 59 receptions, 858 yards, 4 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: I toyed with adding Harvin to the list many times last year because he has a skill set that's Sunday-ready. Defenses must account for him all over the field, as he can beat teams either running or catching the ball. Last month, Harvin underwent minor surgery to correct the right heel pain that has plagued him since high school. He's expected to be full speed come fall practice though, and with that injury under control he should only be better in '08. But as is the case with Tebow, running backs Moody, Williams and Rainey will likely steal many of Harvin's carries.

10. Cullen Harper, Clemson, QB, Sr.

2007 Stats: 282-of-433 passing, 2,991 yards, 27 TDs, 6 INTs; 71 rushes, minus-89 yards, 3 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: Many were considered for this last spot (Rudy Carpenter, James Davis, Ian Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray and Curtis Painter, among others), but I went with Harper, who arguably had just as good a season as Matt Ryan last year. He has all his important skill-position weapons back. The problem is the Tigers must replace four starters on the offensive line. If the line holds up, Harper is a longshot special in '08.

 
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