Though he has started just two games in his young career, Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is considered one of the favorites to contend for 2021 Heisman Trophy.
According to VegasInsider.com, Uiagalelei is second in the preseason odds to win the coveted trophy, behind Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler, who is at 11/2 to win the award. Uiagalelei has 6/1 odds.
But let’s be honest. Do we really think Uiagalelei is going to win the Heisman Trophy? Don’t get me wrong, I think he can. But to me, it seems as if the majority of the Heisman Trophy voters have something against Clemson.
Why do I say this?
Past voting tells me so.
For instance, C.J. Spiller had one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of college football in 2009, and he did not even get an invite to New York. And don’t tell me its because Spiller played on a 9-5 Clemson team.
Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 on a 9-4 team. What’s the difference?
By the way, I am not saying Spiller should have won the Heisman in 2009, I am just saying he should have at least garnered enough points to be invited to New York.
It is hard to complain about Deshaun Watson’s runner-up finish in 2016 or Trevor Lawrence’s runner-up spot last year. I can understand why Jackson and DeVonta Smith won the award in those years.
However, I still do not understand why Lawrence was punished somewhat for contracting COVID-19. Before he was diagnosed with the virus, he was the frontrunner to win the Heisman. But when he came back, even though he had nothing to do with the Notre Dame loss, he fell down the list and could never fully recover.
Do not get me wrong, I think Smith deserved the award and he proved it in the College Football Playoff. But I still think Lawrence was punished for contracting the virus.
But the biggest Heisman snub, from a Clemson standpoint, came in 2015. Watson put up incredible numbers on a team that finished the regular season 12-0 and then went on to win the ACC Championship for a 13-0 record.
Understand the Heisman Trophy is based on what a player did in the regular season and on conference championship weekend.
Watson put up some phenomenal numbers in 2015 on a team that finished 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country. Tell me another quarterback who played on an undefeated-No. 1-ranked team, while putting up huge numbers, and did not win the Heisman Trophy?
Watson was not only the ACC Player of the Year, but he was also a First-Team All-American quarterback and won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback.
What was even worse was the fact Watson was not even the runner-up for the Heisman. He was a finalist, but he finished third in the voting, behind Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, who was on a team that lost three games in the Pac-12.
Speaking of Henry. He did not even lead the SEC in rushing in 2015. That belonged to LSU’s Leonard Fournette, who averaged 162.8 yards per game. He averaged almost 14 yards more per game than Henry, who rushed for 147.9 yards per game.
Fournette also averaged 6.5 yards per carry compared to Henry’s 5.6 and led Henry and the rest of the SEC in total rushing yards and touchdowns at the end of the 12-game regular season.
Henry was a great college player. However, he should not have beat out Watson for the Heisman in 2015.
So, it is great for Uiagalelei to be considered among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in 2021. That’s great for Clemson, too. But if Deshaun Watson did not win the Heisman Trophy in 2015 with the numbers he put up and on undefeated team that was ranked No. 1 in the country, then what does Uiagalelei have to do to win it?
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