Heading into the 2020 season, the Heisman favorites were names like Trevor Lawrence, Spencer Rattler, and Justin Fields. Then 2020 continued its strange year, Trevor misses a game with Covid, OSU only plays five games, Oklahoma loses two games in division, and now we’re looking at names like Kyle Trask, Mac Jones, and even Devonta Smith.
It’s long since known that the Heisman Trophy doesn’t go to the best player in college football, but the player that puts up the best numbers on a team with enough recognition. That being said, let’s look at who’s looking at getting an invite to the (virtual) Heisman ceremony.
#5 Ian Book, QB Notre Dame
When Notre Dame decided to join the ACC this year, many expected them to lose to Clemson once, if not twice, and be an afterthought as they usually are these years. Then Ian Book played out of his mind vs Clemson and they got the win.
People started paying attention to Book and seeing some of the wow plays that get your attention. He doesn’t have the gaudy numbers that he would ultimately need to win the Heisman, but when you play the most important position on a winning team, people take notice.
#4 Trevor Lawrence/Justin Fields, QB Clemson, Ohio State
The favorites coming into the season land here at number four together as I think they’re both in the same boat. They are still names tossed around, but there are not enough numbers or games played to be considered.
With Lawrence missing a game and sitting out virtually every second half/4th quarter of every game, a Clemson QB will almost certainly never win it as long as the ACC doesn’t put up a fight late in games.
Fields, on the other hand, has nice numbers, but with only five games played and a nasty three-interception game vs the only quality team they will play in the regular season, you can all but write him off as well. You’re looking at the likely number one and two picks in the draft, but neither will hoist the trophy.
#3 Devonta Smith, WR Alabama
An absolute game-breaker at the WR position and likely the first one drafted this year, this guy has all the tools that make him a star on day one. On a team loaded with first-round talent at WR and RB, all he’s done is haul in 80 catches for 1305 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Not mentioned – his outrageous 16.3 yards per catch. It’s difficult to win the award at a position other than QB, but you could make an argument for him being the best player in the nation.
He’s a big play waiting to happen and even when the other team knows he’s getting the ball, it doesn’t matter, even topping 140 yards six times this season. He even has people questioning Mac Jones as a round one QB.
#2 Mac Jones, QB Alabama
After Tua left Alabama and they signed the #2 QB prospect for the 2020 recruiting cycle, many expected Bryce Young to get the nod at QB. Clearly, Mac Jones had other ideas.
He burst onto the scene in week two vs Texas A&M throwing for 430 and four touchdowns. He’s got 27 touchdowns to only three interceptions while posting an outrageous 75% completion percentage.
While I think it will be a steep hill to climb when the nation recognizes the talent around him before anointing him the best in the nation, he’s done a hell of a job showing that being a pocket passer can still get it done in CFB.
#1 Kyle Trask, QB Florida
To everyone’s surprise, Trask came in last year for Franks and looked good, not great or special. This year he is a whole new QB. Running through the SEC competition to the tune of 38 touchdowns (a category he leads the nation in) with only three interceptions on top of his 71% completion percentage.
He currently has his team sitting at #6 in the playoff rankings and set for an SEC championship game with Alabama. This could provide him with his “Heisman moment” opportunity.
Even with only a solid outing in the game, he should be the odds-on favorite to win the award joining Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, and Tim Tebow as the only Florida QB’s to win the award.
Honorable mentions: Zach Wilson, QB BYU, Najee Harris, RB Alabama
Zach Wilson stormed the CFB scene when a big name analyst had him ranked as high as #2 on his quarterback rankings and stirred the conversation. Now viewed as somewhere between the second and fourth-best QB in the draft, he had a shot to throw his name in the hat but ultimately lost to Coastal Carolina and an already small school can’t have that happen.
Najee Harris surprised everyone by returning to school this past year for his senior season despite being pegged as a round one or two back. Averaging six yards a carry, he’s carried a whopping 20 (!) touchdowns this year. He’s a star back and likely the first one off the board come draft season but as long as you have a high-level QB and WR playing with you, a RB has the longest uphill battle to even be considered.