Written by: Joseph Yun
With a majority of teams in the FBS universe making their way to a midpoint in their respective conference only seasons, it’s time to take a look at the contenders for the weirdest Heisman campaign in recent memory. Who are the leading lights in the race to New York in December?
Will anyone challenge the heir presumptive and make a late run at glory as so many have done in the past? Is college football’s most prestigious award race already done and dusted?
1. Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson
- The presumed favorite entering this pandemic induced season from Hades, Lawrence has done little to dissuade voters in his likely final collegiate season. Barring injury, he should be the favorite to accept the Heisman virtually. News just broke last night that he tested positive for COVID19., it will remain to be seen whether the games missed will impact his standing as the favorite.
2020 Statistics: 135/191 (71%) 1,833 yards, 17 touchdowns, and two interceptions
2. Zach Wilson QB BYU
- Every year, there’s a darkhorse that surprises everyone and makes himself known ala Joe Burrow in 2019. Wilson is that guy in 2020. He’s been dominant as the signal-caller for the nomadic Cougars who have been willing to play anyone anywhere it seems. Some voters may be turned off by the lack of a concrete schedule (a dumb concept especially in 2020) though. With the Pac-12 being in the dismal state as it is, Wilson may represent the West’s best hope at the award this season. Wilson has one more “showcase” game left on the docket against Boise State.
2020 Statistics: 126/161 (78%) 1,928 yards, 16 touchdowns, one interception
3. Justin Fields QB Ohio State
- 2021 QB2 had an efficient if not spectacular 2020 debut and immediately slots in as the best in show right off the bat. He’ll make it a close contest with Lawrence’s seemingly preordained destiny and the Big Ten’s warped decision to delay, time will run out. Still, not all is lost as he can make up huge amounts of ground in a hurry with a packed schedule (which means more national TV opportunities to show off for the voters.
2020 Statistics: 20/21 (95%), 276 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions.
4. Najee Harris RB Alabama
- Death, taxes, Alabama running backs going buck wild. Harris is no different this year. He leads FBS in touchdowns with 14. While he probably won’t win the award, he’ll get some votes and finish in the top ten.
2020 Statistics: 103 attempts for 595 yards and 14 touchdowns. 14 receptions for 147 yards.
5. Mac Jones QB Alabama
- Jones has kept up his stellar play from last season when he had to fill in for an injured Tua. He more than beat out freshman phenom Bryce Young in fall camp and proved it during the season to date. While he isn’t the nation’s leading passer, he’s been efficient. Could the true junior sneak into the first round discussion in April? While missing game-breaking receiver Jaylen Waddle will hurt his candidacy some, he still has Devonta Smith and the emergent John Metchie, Jr to throw to.
2020 Statistics: 115/146 (79%), 1,905 yards 12 touchdowns, two interceptions.
6. Travis Etienne RB Clemson
- The potential RB1 in 2021 is living up to his usual high billing in 2020. He has a shot to join the 4K rushing and 1K receiving yards club if he stays healthy. Etienne did leave last week against Syracuse with an injury and is a question for Boston College this weekend. Clearly, he’s an elite talent that deserves some Heisman love.
7. Kyle Trask QB Florida
- The Kyle to Kyle combination for the Gators has been a very fruitful pairing for Trask who has developed nicely in 2020. Though factors somewhat outside his control, he’s played only three games so the sample size is quite limited. He needs more reps to move up on the list.
2020 Statistics: 74/103 (72%) 996 yards, 14 touchdowns, and one interception
8. Patrick Jones II EDGE Pittsburgh
- The nation’s leading sack artist deserves some love as he’s done very well to blow his 2019 numbers out of the water. All this without the services of teammate and likely high draft pick Jalen Twyman who opted out. While Pitt hasn’t had the team-wide success, PJ2 should vault his career into a potential high draft pick in April.
2020 Statistics: 27 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, and seven sacks.
9. Javian Hawkins RB Louisville
- Hawkins is electric and can score from anywhere on the field. He has been productive even against the toughest of defenses so the signs of talent are there. Watch for him to rise up the boards during the draft process. Louisville has been average this year through no fault of Hawkins.
2020 Statistics: 116 attempts for 693 yards, six touchdowns.
10. Dillon Gabriel QB UCF
- Gabriel is the nation’s leading passer with the 3-2 Golden Knights so he deserves some praise here. He’s only a true sophomore so expect him to move up the list next year.
2020 Statistics: 148/228 (65%) 2,178 yards, 19 touchdowns, two interceptions