4. Ohio State RB Curtis Samuel
Curtis Samuel may have only 75 carries in two seasons at Ohio State, but that limited window provides a glimpse into what should be an impressive junior season for the Brooklyn-bred Buckeye back.
Samuel got the majority of his carries in 2014, when he scored six touchdowns on just 58 opportunities. Last season with Ezekiel Elliott clicking and the flip-flop at quarterback, Samuel took a back seat as a ball-carrier.
Even as his rushing production tapered off, Samuel remained an explosive weapon as a pass-catcher. His proven ability as a two-way play-maker
Offseason surgery to repair an injured foot should help Samuel make a seamless transition into the big void Elliott leaves. As Samuel explained to Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
“I feel like I’m going to be much better now. I’m ready for it.”
3. Michigan DB Jabrill Peppers
Michigan produced the first (and to date, last) defensive Heisman winner nearly 20 years again, Charles Woodson. Jabrill Peppers carries on Woodson’s legacy as a do-everything DB, as dangerous lining up on offense or special teams as he is on defense.
Peppers is an outstanding defensive back, last season having broken up 10 passes and getting in on 5.5 tackles for loss, but getting to the end zone draws Heisman attention. Peppers will do just that both as a kickoff returner and option on offense. He rushed for a pair of scores last season and caught eight passes.
If Harbaugh and Co. can find ways to get Peppers touchdowns — rushing, receiving, special teams, maybe even one defensively — Peppers could be the second Wolverine defensive back to hoist the Heisman.