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Posted: Wednesday August 27, 2008 12:04PM; Updated: Wednesday August 27, 2008 3:17PM
Gene Menez Gene Menez >

Ohio State's Beanie Wells enters 2008 as the man to beat

Story Highlights
  • Last year's Heisman winner, Florida QB Tim Tebow, starts at No. 2
  • Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis is the only defensive player in the list
  • Half of the top 10 candidates are sophomores
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NFL scouts drool over Chris "Beanie" Wells' mix of power and speed.
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After nearly eight months without college football, you're probably ready to suit up and cover the opening kickoff yourself. So instead of wasting your time with some nonsensical rambling to start the preseason Watch, let's dive right into the football.

1. Beanie Wells, Ohio State, RB, Jr.

2007 stats: 274 rushes, 1,609 yards, 15 TDs; 5 receptions, 21 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: Now that we know his friends call him Beanie and not Chris, we can begin the process of Heisman punditry. With a delicious combination of size (6-foot-1, 237 pounds) and speed (see 65-yard touchdown against LSU), Wells is the most NFL-ready of anyone on this list. When you also consider that he'll be the offensive engine for a team that'll be in BCS title consideration for much of the season, he's the one beat. The main question with him is: Will he stay injury-free?
Up next: Saturday vs. Youngstown State.

2. Tim Tebow, Florida, QB, Jr.

2007 stats: 234-of-350 passing, 3,286 yards, 32 TDs, 6 INTs; 210 rushes, 895 yards, 23 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: Touchdown Tim had a historic season last year when winning the Heisman, but the bad news for Tebow is that all those numbers from 2007 will raise the bar even higher for him in 2008. In addition Florida's suddenly deep stable of runners should probably cut into the quarterback's carries. The blogosphere had a field day in July after Gators coach Urban Meyer called Tebow "the greatest player of our era." A second Heisman would shut that blogosphere up.
Up next: Saturday vs. Hawaii.

3. Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, RB, Soph.

2007 stats: 248 rushes, 1,334 yards, 14 TDs; 20 receptions, 253 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: Moreno is such an electric runner in the open field that Bulldogs coach Mark Richt experimented with the idea of him returning punts this season. A bruised shoulder has temporarily shelved that plan, but there's a chance it could be revived at some point. Moreno's Heisman hopes could use the punt-returning boost, considering all the shuffling that has occurred in the offensive line after Trinton Sturdivant's season-ending knee injury.
Up next: Saturday vs. Georgia Southern.

4. Chase Daniel, Missouri, QB, Sr.

2007 stats: 384-of-563 passing, 4,306 yards, 33 TDs, 11 INTs; 109 rushes, 253 yards, 4 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: No college quarterback knows his offense better than Daniel, who has been running almost this exact version of the spread since his days at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High. What he lacks in height (6-feet), he makes up for with savvy and surprising speed. If he can finish fourth in the voting despite losing twice to Oklahoma last year, imagine how high he could finish if he beats the bullies on the schedule this year (Texas, anyone?). He gets an early encounter with a bully on Saturday.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 20 Illinois in St. Louis.

5. Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, WR, Soph.

2007 stats: 134 receptions, 1,962 yards, 22 TDs; 1 kick off return, 16 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: Red Raiders coach/offensive madman Mike Leach is toying with new ways to get Crabtree more touches, including running the ball from a direct snap and returning kickoffs. Crabtree was already the most prolific receiver in the country last year -- by about four touchdowns -- so this can only help his chances. But he can't have a great season without his quarterback Graham Harrell, who just may steal enough votes to keep Crabtree from winning it.
Up next: Saturday vs. Eastern Washington.

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