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Spring practice is finally over which means Heisman Trophy talks have begun.
While the race is wide open and to early to call, there are a ton of players vying to be apart of the exclusive club of college football elites. While the best player doesn’t always win the award, its still a major focus on the college football universe. Along with how many titles Nick Saban can win before leaving Alabama.
The Heisman is always an arms race to the end. Last year, we saw Baker Mayfield take the trophy home. Mayfield started his career as a walk-on at Texas Tech before taking the prize as an Oklahoma Sooner. The year before last, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson electrified the country before named the winner.
Both players put in work for their respective teams to win the award: a requirement if you want your name in the books as a Heisman trophy winner.
This upcoming season features a ton of talent. The race is wide open with quarterbacks dominating the list but there are a few other players that could have a say about that.
Houston’s Ed Oliver is trying to become the second defensive player in history since Charles Woodson to win the award. Oliver will have to post monster numbers to pull this off.
I could go on and on about the Heisman hopefuls so here are my ten preseason picks for the Heisman trophy award:
Jake Fromm: Georgia Bulldogs Quarterback (Sophomore)
The sophomore quarterback did his best Wally Pip impression, leading the Bulldogs to a National Title appearance. After taking over for Washington transfer Jacob Eason, Fromm showed the ability to play big-time football. Fromm, possibly the best quarterback in the country, has the talent around him to make another run.
Georgia’s non-conference schedule is weak with Austin Peay, U-Mass, and Middle Tennessee to look forward to. This should help his case sense his numbers should inflate against these teams. If Fromm leads Georgia back to the playoffs, this could be his Heisman Trophy to lose.
Khalil Tate: Arizona Wildcats, Quarterback (Junior)
The Arizona quarterback is just flat out electric. Just like Fromm in Georgia, Tate took over the quarterback job and never looked back. Tate has the tools in developing into one of the nations better signal callers. He is 6’2″ with a cannon arm and can use his legs to take it to the house himself if all else fails.Tate rushed for 327 yards, an FBS quarterback record formerly held by Nothern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch. After threating to leave because of the firing of former coach Rich Rodriguez, Kevin Sumlin has been to his approval. Sumlin should be the perfect fit to help build on Khalil’s talent.
Bryce Love: Stanford Cardinals, Running Back (Senior)
Love finished third in the voting last year and has a strong chance of winning the prize this year. It will be no mystery that Love is the featured option. Honestly, he is the only option for this offense. Finishing as the top running back in the nation last year, Love is the best returning player in the country.
The Cardinals schedule features a few run defenses that should make the back’s case as the nations best player, although 2,118 rushing yards with 19 rushing TD’s will be hard to duplicate. The Stanford back will have to show improvement in catching the ball out the backfield if he wants to win the prestigious award (six receptions last year).
Jarrett Stidham: Auburn Tigers, Quarterback (Junior)
Stidham could become Auburn’s third Heisman winner this season. After living up to the hype transferring in from Baylor, the Tiger quarterback is ready to leave his stamp on this program. Stidham could be the number one pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Stidham will be looking to get Auburn into the playoffs after that disappointing 27-34 loss to UCF in the Peach Bowl. With this possibly being his last year playing on Saturdays, he will want to end it on a high note. No better way to do that than beating Washington in Atlanta on opening weekend. A win against a possible playoff contender will put voters on notice.
JK Dobbins: Ohio State Buckeyes, Running Back (Sophomore)
Dobbins has the makings to be next great back at Ohio State. After a 181 yard coming out party against the Indiana Hoosiers, he showed he has what it takes to be a featured back. This upcoming season, he should be featured more in this Buckeye’s offense. Dobbins will probably get overlooked because he is a sophomore but don’t let that fool you.
If coach Urban Meyer plans on coaching this team to a possible Big Ten Title and or College Football Playoff berth, then Dobbins will be a factor this year on offense. Let’s face it, Ohio State is a premier program and if they’re rolling and it’s because of Dobbins, voters will have no choice but to put him in the conversation as the best player in college football.
Will Grier: West Virginia Mountaineers, Quarterback (Senior)
The Mountaineer senior quarterback could end a roller-coaster college career as a Heisman winner. Possibly the best draft-eligible quarterback this year, he finished in the top 10 nationally last year in passing touchdowns, passing efficiency, yards per attempt and yards per game. This West Virginia offense is built for Grier to put up Heisman numbers. If he can come back healthy and lead this team to a Big 12 title, its very possible Grier walks away with the Heisman Trophy.
Cam Akers: Florida State Seminoles, Running Back (Sophomore)
Akers has proven to be a workhorse. Last year, the true freshman was one of the only things that Florida State could count on. Now with new coach Willie Taggert in, expect Akers to be an even bigger part of this offense. Akers is on track to being a household name in college football. If the Seminoles’ program wants to get back on top, they will need to put the ball in the hands of Akers. With questions circulating about Deandre Francois’ off the field allegations and shaky offensive line play, they have no other choice. Akers will share rushing duties with Jacques Patrick but will be the featured back in this offense.
Jake Browning: Washington Huskies, Quarterback (Senior)
Browning has been paying his dues, getting this Husky program back on the map. Browning is the best signal caller in the Pac-12 conference this year. Yes, everyone’s excited about quarterback Khalil Tate in Arizona but don’t forget who got this team to consecutive playoff appearances. Browning also holds the school record for touchdown passes with 78.
Browning will get a chance to make his case early in the Heisman race with the first game being against Auburn in Atlanta, Georgia. This game could have playoff indications as well. A strong performance by Browning and he could have an early lead in the Heisman race.
Johnathan Taylor: Wisconsin Badgers, Running Back (Sophomore)
You can’t leave the all-time freshman leading rusher in history off the list (1,977 yards). Taylor has superstar written all over him. Wisconsin is a running back factory and Taylor maybe next in line to hoist up a Heisman when this season is over. Running the ball is a given but the Badgers will have to feature Taylor a little more in the passing game. A well-rounded season individually along with team success will throw him in the mix. Taylor will not surprise teams this year and a lot will be expected of the sophomore rusher. Can he keep the momentum going heading into year two?
Justin Herbert: Oregon Ducks, Quarterback (Sophomore)
When Herbert is under center, great things happen for the Oregon Ducks. The Junior quarterback had his team rolling at 4-1 before going down with a collarbone injury. Herbert returned for the final three games but it just wasn’t enough. Now back healthy, Herbert will have to play his best football if he wants to continue to stay on this list. The Duck quarterback is the second best passer in the Pac-12 behind Washington’s Jake Browning.
With this offense being so young at the skill positions and also fighting to be a contender, it will be Herbert that gets them there. Oregon faces Arizona at home and Washington on the road. Both teams feature quarterbacks that will be in the Heisman conversation all year long. Coming out victorious and having the better stat line will put Herbert in the conversation as well.