Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
There are two primary goals that top-tier college football players enter the season with. Number one is, obviously, to win the College Football Playoff national championship game. Number two is to win the Heisman Trophy award. Who are the way-too-early favorites to rock this year’s race?
With still roughly four months to go until the start of the season, these rankings are definitely subject to change. The possibilities of transfers, injuries, teammate transfers or teammate injuries among many other changes make these rankings 100% subject to change and anything but set in stone.
We’ll start with some names worth remembering and some honorable mentions.
Names Worth Remembering (no order)
Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State Seminoles
Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn Tigers
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston Cougars
Quinton Flowers, QB, South Florida Bulls
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn Tigers
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon Ducks
Shane Buechele, QB, Texas Longhorns
Kenny Hill, QB, TCU Horned Frogs
Luke Falk, QB, Washington State Cougars
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA Bruins
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State Broncos
Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State Buckeyes
Malik Zaire, QB, Undecided
Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington Huskies
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado Buffaloes
Honorable Mentions (no order)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma Sooners — Mayfield has been one of the nation’s top passers over the past two seasons, totaling 7,665 passing yards, 76 touchdowns, and just 15 interceptions. However, it’s hard to see his recent legal issues go unnoticed by the voters regardless of how well he performs this season.
JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes — Barrett is an electrifying quarterback running the football, but he leaves a lot to be desired in the passing game. He could contend for the award if he steps that up this season and keeps Ohio State at the top of the rankings.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama Crimson Tide — Hurts, like Barrett, is a great running quarterback on a great team, but he needs work in the passing game. As just a sophomore, however, I can see him improving a lot and finishing higher in the final vote than he did last season.
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State Cowboys — Rudolph silently put together a productive season last year, amassing 4,091 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions. As one of the nation’s top returning senior quarterbacks, he should be a Heisman contender for sure.
Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State Nittany Lions — McSorley proved to be one of the most unlikely success stories last season after he led Penn State to a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl appearance after a 2-2 start. He is one of the few efficient running quarterbacks that have already developed a reliable passing game, so don’t sleep on him.
No. 5 – Jake Browning, QB, Washington Huskies
Many people thought that Browning would at least be a top 5 finisher in the voting last season after a breakout season in which he threw for 3,430 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. However, he was not. There is no reason to believe that he won’t be able to put up solid numbers once again. With three of last year’s five finalists no longer in school, he should definitely be a top 5 contender.
No. 4 – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State Nittany Lions
Barkley is probably the best all-around running back in the nation in terms of a combination of rushing and receiving. Playing for a team with arguably the most explosive offense in the country, he is sure to see his share of touches once again. Last season as a sophomore, he totaled 300 touches, 1,898 scrimmage yards, and 22 touchdowns, a huge improvement from his freshman season. Look for even more of an improvement this season.
No. 3 – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU Tigers
It seems more than safe to say that LSU is in good hands at the running back position after the departure of the 2017 NFL Draft’s #4 overall pick Leonard Fournette. In limited playing time last season, Guice carried the ball just 183 times, but he did so for 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. That’s good for 7.6 average yards per carry, and that’s against some tough SEC defenses. In a full-time starting role, Guice should shine even brighter this season.
No. 2 – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville Cardinals
Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy award winner, could easily be the top player in the nation again. However, only one player has won the award twice, so if Jackson wants to become the second, he’s going to have to play as well as or better than he played last season. That’s a tall task seeing as how he totaled 51 touchdowns (30 passing, 21 rushing) last year, but it’s certainly a good possibility.
No. 1 – Sam Darnold, QB, USC Trojans
Remember USC’s 1-3 start last season? Darnold doesn’t. After that miserable start in which he started just one game, he led the team to a 9-0 record, including a Rose Bowl victory over the scorching hot Penn State Nittany Lions. The projected #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft looks to be headed towards a season for the ages after a shortened season in which he threw for 3,086 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and just 9 interceptions.