Yes… It is only the beginning of the season, but it’s never too early to talk about the Heisman Trophy hopefuls for this year. Obviously, it is early, but there are many players who really can make it to that final night competing for college football’s greatest individual honor.
Here is The Clemson Insider’s list of players to watch on this opening weekend.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson, QB: Watson is more than just a quarterback; he is a superior athlete. Last season Watson totaled 4,104 passing yards with 35 touchdowns, to go along with 1,105 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He is a quarterback that can not only throw the ball with such high precision and arm strength, but also runs like a running back. He is dynamic beyond belief. After finishing third in the Heisman race last year, Watson is the favorite to win it this year. Alabama head coach Nick Saban says he is the best player in the country, and the best player since Cam Newton won the award in 2010 while playing for Auburn.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, RB: McCaffrey should have won the Heisman last year, with Watson finishing in a close second. Last year’s runner-up in the Heisman race is coming off one of the most stellar seasons in college football history. Last season, McCaffrey broke Pro football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sander’s single season all-purpose yards’ record, but he did not just break it, he destroyed it. McCaffrey totaled 3,864 all-purpose yards and broke Sander’s record by a grotesque 614 yards. Coming off one of the best seasons in college football history, it will be tough to keep up with him if he repeats his performance.
Leonard Fournette, LSU, RB: There is no other man like Fournette. He is undeniably the running back of the future. He was a heavy favorite for the award last year throughout the season until a couple shaky performances, leading to LSU losses. He is widely considered as the best running back in college football by many analysts. Fournette rushed for 1,953 yards and tallied 22 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 6.5 yards a carry. He finished sixth in last year’s voting.
Dalvin Cook, FSU, RB: The star man from FSU is coming into the season with a lot of hype, and it’s well earned. Cook ran for 1,691 yards, while totaling 19 rushing touchdowns. He leads a very promising fourth ranked FSU team into this season, and a lot of his potential as a Heisman Finalist will ride on how well the team does as a whole this year. He finished seventh in last year’s voting.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB: Mayfield went from being a walk on at Texas Tech, to one of the best quarterbacks in the nation at Oklahoma. Last season Mayfield totaled 3,700 yards and threw 36 touchdown passes. He was also quite mobile rushing for 405 yards along with seven rushing touchdowns. Comparisons to Brett Favre come to mind with many people due to Mayfield’s gunslinger mentality. After finishing fourth in last year’s Heisman rankings, Mayfield looks to live up to the Favre comparisons and continue his play as an elite college quarterback.
WHO PEOPLE ARE FORGETTING
JT Barrett, Ohio State, QB: People seem to be forgetting about Ohio State’s stud quarterback JT Barrett. There is no more Cardale Jones breathing down his back, this is Barrett’s team. Not only is it his team, but he is and has been completely ready for this team to be his. Two seasons ago Barrett had one of the best seasons of any quarterback in college football, but with such great talent around him such as Jones, his numbers decreased drastically. Last season he only threw for 992 yards and ran for 682, but that was mainly due to the competition at quarterback. He is a proven starting quarterback, and is ready for complete control of the Buckeyes.
DESERVING, BUT HE’S ON DEFENSE
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, ATH: This statement could cause arguments, but Jabrill Peppers is THE best athlete in college football. Plain and simple, he can do it all. You can throw him in at nearly any position on the football field, and he will dominate. You could even try to throw him on the offensive line, and maybe he’ll knock a few big guys around. Last season Peppers ran the ball, caught the ball, returned the ball, and played All-American caliber defense at multiple positions. Peppers is a force and has the potential to put together a special season.
Myles Garret, Texas A&M, DE
Corey Clement, Wisconsin, RB
Royce Freeman, Oregon, RB
Nick Chubb, Georgia, RB
Greg Ward Jr., Houston, QB
Josh Rosen, UCLA, QB
Calvin Ridley, Alabama, WR
Saquon Barkley, Penn State, RB