Ka’Deem Carey – RB, Arizona
Carey, who is just a sophomore, led all running backs in the nation in 2012 with over 146 yards per game and added 20 touchdowns to that as well. He twice broke the 200-yard barrier in his final three games, including an astounding 306-yard- five touchdown effort on Nov. 10 against Colorado. With a big game on Saturday against Nevada in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Carey could firmly cement himself right into next season’s Heisman discussion.
Stedman Bailey – WR, West Virginia
Bailey, WVU’s leading receiver this season with over 1,500 yards and 23 TDs, is just a junior, but will likely enter this year’s NFL Draft; and wisely so. His teammate Tavon Austin gets all of the attention for his dual-threat abilities, but Bailey is as reliable as any receiver in today’s game. In Bailey’s three years at WVU, he has piled up 3,097 yards receiving and 39 TDs; some of the greatest three-year numbers of any receiver in college football history. Bailey could put up another impressive performance against a susceptible Syracuse pass defense in this year’s New Era Pinstripe Bowl and could wind up getting drafted as high as the end of the first round in this year’s NFL draft.
David Fales – QB, San Jose State
The junior signal-caller for the Spartans was one of the major surprises in college football this year. Fales completed a higher percentage of his passes than any other starting QB in college football with 72.1 percent, all while throwing for 3,798 yards and 31 TDs to boot. It remains to be seen whether or not Fales can continue to put up these types of numbers and whether or not his team can build off of this year’s success, but he will certainly get the chance in 2013 and could even be a sleeper Heisman candidate like Case Keenum was for Houston a couple of years ago.
Tajh Boyd – QB, Clemson
The junior Tigers QB, who will likely declare for the NFL Draft was once again stellar this season -- his second great campaign for an up-and-coming Clemson program. Boyd threw for 3,550 yards and was tied for sixth in the nation with 34 touchdown passes thrown. He has now thrown 67 touchdown passes in his last two seasons. Boyd’s downfall when being evaluated by NFL scouts could be his 13 interceptions, but if looked at carefully, it is clear that most of those INTs came in garbage time with Clemson leading big late in games. The junior signal-caller could be one of the most underrated players going into April’s draft.
Arthur Brown – LB, Kansas State
Brown was the senior defensive leader for a solid Wildcats unit in 2012. He led the team in tackles with 91 on the year and also had two interceptions, using his tremendous athletic abilities to elevate himself and get to broken up passes. He has also been the vocal leader of a defensive unit that has helped the Wildcats win 21 games over the past two seasons and is finally living up to his pre-collegiate hype after transferring from Miami. Brown is not as disruptive as linebackers like Jarvis Jones or Manti Te’o, but is probably more athletic and gets from sideline to sideline better than either of them. A good showing versus an athletic Oregon team in this year’s Fiesta Bowl could bode well for his NFL Draft stock come April.
Joseph Randle – RB, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys' success usually gets attributed to their QBs and their passing game, which is fair. However, Randle has made people aware of the OK State running game the last couple of years and truly made it as much of a threat as anything else that they do. Randle surpassed the 1,200-yard barrier for the second consecutive season in 2012 and has now racked up 3,020 yards rushing and 40 TDs in his Cowboy career and has been the most consistent force for their offense during that span. Another solid performance in this year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl against a struggling Purdue program should vault Randle firmly into a first or second day selection in 2013’s NFL Draft.
Photo Credit: Getty