The Heisman Trophy will not be awarded until Saturday December 9th, but that won’t stop the pundits from analyzing the key players that are well on their way to receiving an invite to the ceremony.
When the 2017 College Football season began, the Heisman favorites included USC QB Sam Darnold, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (last year’s winner), Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, Penn State RB Saquon Barkley and Florida State QB Deondre Francois.
Francois is now out for the year after suffering a patella tendon injury against Alabama, while Barrett has struggled for the Buckeyes.
Darnold, meanwhile, opened as the odds-on favorite, but has since been replaced by Lamar Jackson, who has started the season at a blistering pace.
While this certainly will not be a weekly thing at TWHS – especially since it’s so early in the season – the first few weeks have been intriguing enough to tackle the Heisman chase as it currently stands.
Here’s how my way too early Heisman rankings unfold, with a “Sexy 7” group at the top, followed by a number of other key players that should be in the discussion.
Don’t be shocked to see a few of the preseason favorites on the outside looking in:
Sexy Seven: Week 2 Heisman Trophy Rankings
1. Baker Mayfield – Quarterback, Oklahoma
Mayfield (715 passing yards, 6 TD, 0 INT) has been stellar in the opening weeks of the season, with a near spotless 83.6% completion percentage. His 386 yards passing on the road at “The Shoe” – a very hostile environment – is the kind of win that grabs the attention of Heisman voters. In addition to the pristine numbers, Mayfield apologized for his flag-planting incident on Ohio State’s midfield. While not necessary in the minds of most (including yours truly), it’s still an act that very much “exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity”, as outlined in the Heisman Trust Mission Statement.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) September 11, 2017
2. Lamar Jackson – Quarterback, Louisville
The defending Heisman trophy winner has been off the charts during Louisville’s victories over Purdue and North Carolina. Jackson has accounted for more than 1,000 total yards in two weeks (771 passing and 239 rushing), with eight total touchdowns. Next up is Clemson, which features one of the nation’s best defenses. It’s still early, but this game will be key to Jackson becoming a two-time Heisman winner.
3. Josh Rosen – Quarterback, UCLA
Rosen’s 410 ypg is third in the nation and his four fourth-quarter touchdown comeback against Texas A&M is the type of performance that sticks in the minds of voters. His nine passing touchdowns are also currently tied for the most in the country. If the #25 Bruins continue to have a strong year, Rosen is likely to remain in the discussion for the duration of the season.
4. Mason Rudolph – Quarterback, Oklahoma State
Rudolph (638 passing yards, 6 TD, 0 INT, 72.6% completion percentage) has posted gaudy numbers, albeit while facing not so formidable foes in Tulsa and South Alabama. With Pitt on the road and #20 TCU to follow, it will be interesting to see where he is statistically as October approaches.
5. Saquon Barkley – Running Back, Penn State
Barkley is a human highlight reel and a freakish athlete, but this is an award that frequently gets awarded to quarterbacks. The numbers will have to be over the top, in order to match what Derrick Henry accomplished in 2015. Barkley (28 carries, 260 yards on the ground with 7 catches for 99 receiving yards and 4 total TD) has been a difference maker, but failed to top 100 yards rushing against Pitt. He will also be returning kicks, so it’s a good bet that the numbers will pile up as the season progresses. The question remains whether players like Mike Gesicki and Trace McSorley steal away too many yards.
6. Royce Freeman – Running Back, Oregon
With 119 points through two games, the Ducks appear to have another one of its explosive offenses. That should lead to big numbers for its playmakers, with Freeman (52 carries, 303 rushing yards, 6 TD, 5 receptions, 59 receiving yards) as the primary benefactor. Freeman’s key stretch will be in October, when the Ducks face Washington State, Stanford and UCLA (in back-to-back-to-back games).
7. Rashaad Penny – Running Back, San Diego State
Not on many Heisman radars, Penny has quietly had a fantastic start to the season, filling the big shoes left when Donnel Pumphrey moved on to the NFL. Sure, the opponents have been UC Davis and Arizona State, but Penny has been money (pun intended), averaging 10.59 yards per carry. His 206.5 yards rushing per game is thirty five yards ahead of the entire field. If the numbers continue, he could rise up the charts and surprise some people.
Other Heisman Contenders:
Sam Darnold (Quarterback, USC) – His 4 TD / 4 INT ratio is not good enough to currently land him in the elite group, but that could change quickly
Luke Falk (Quarterback, Washington State) – His 78.1% completion percentage is one of the best marks in the nation
Will Grier (Quarterback, West Virginia) – With 723 passing yards, 8 TD and just 1 INT, his numbers and impact are highly underrated
Derrius Guice (Running Back, LSU) – He has been steady (42 carries, 224 rushing yards, 4 TD) for the #12 Tigers, but the numbers aren’t yet good enough to compete with the rest of the contenders
Jonathan Taylor (Running Back, Wisconsin) – Another “bull in a china shop” back for the Badgers, tallying 310 yards, with 4 TD over the team’s first two games
Bryce Love (Running Back, Stanford) – His 11.33 ypc is 9th in the nation and the top mark among backs with thirty or more carries
Jake Browning (Quarterback, Washington) – The numbers – 69.6% completion percentage, 4 TD, 1 INT and 543 passing yards – are solid, but not elite for the #6 Huskies
J.K. Dobbins (Running Back, Ohio State) – Only received 13 carries (for 72 yards) in a big game against the Sooners
With some of these names in mind, how would you rank your current Heisman favorites?
Note: All stats via cfbstats.com | Team rankings are via the Week 3 AP Poll