To start speculating early, who should be the top candidates for the 2021 Heisman Trophy?
This piece was solid four years ago when the Baker Mayfield Would Win call connected, and three years ago it was full of right ideas, wrong applications, and a whole slew of whiffs.
Let’s just say the 2019 Early Top Ten Heisman Trophy Prediction piece had … issues. No one – NO ONE – saw Joe Burrow coming.
And no, no one had DeVonta Smith in mix for the 2020 Heisman. However, we at least had Trevor Lawrence, Kyle Trask, and random Alabama quarterback in last year’s preseason mix.
Predicting the 2021 Heisman race? Assume this is all typed in pencil.
More than ever, we don’t know what we don’t know.
1. Transfers, transfers, transfers. With this year’s free pass to transfer, don’t get comfortable in any way with your current starting quarterback or top running back. It’s going to be a crazy next several months.
2. Draft, draft, draft. There are still several key guys who might opt-out, get out, or just decided they want to preserve themselves for the NFL. It’s going to be a crazy next several months.
3. Seniors, seniors, seniors. It’s possible this year for some seniors to decide they don’t want to face the real world quite yet – and why would they? In the COVID season, everyone gets an extra year of eligibility if it’s wanted. It’s going to be a crazy next several months.
And finally …
4. The real world. We’re all assuming things will be better and 2021 will see a more normal type of football season. You want to bet the house on that? We can hope for something better, but …
It’s going to be a crazy next several months.
The goal is getting the early 2021 Heisman call close to the pin, so we start with this.
2021 Heisman Trophy Watch List: Names On A List As Fliers … Just In Case
Every name in this group seems like a crazy call that has no business working in the discussion of the 2021 Heisman Trophy. Call it the Joe Burrow and DeVonta Smith curveball list.
It’s in alphabetical order after beginning with …
It’s the wimp way out, but do you really want to pick the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner a year in advance? Take The Field – not Justin Fields – over everyone else, and you’re likely to be right. But that’s no fun, so we press on.
QB Matt Corral, Jr. Ole Miss
And here we go with the parade of SEC quarterbacks. The main difference between Corral and several others is 1) experience, 2) a team with a likely bad defense to 3) once again force him to put up massive numbers. He ran for over 500 yards and four scores, and hit 71% of his throws for 3,337 yards and 29 touchdowns.
QB Max Johnson, Soph. LSU
Or, just make this spot for Insert Starting LSU QB Here. Lost in all of the problems with the Tigers in 2020 was a passing game that really did work. It wasn’t 2019, but there was hope. Now the program has to settle in on a quarterback from way too many options – and maybe a top transfer. Johnson was the star of the Florida win and closed out with a 435-yard day against Ole Miss.
QB Emory Jones, Jr. Florida
Is he really going to take over the job with Kyle Trask done? He adds more of a rushing element to the mix, provided a bit of a spark in the Oklahoma debacle, and he’s got the skills to put up huge numbers if he’s the guy.
WR John Metchie, Jr. Alabama
No, but last year at this time if someone told you that DeVonta Smith was going to be in the Heisman equation …
Metchie averaged more yards per catch than Smith (17.8 to 15.6).
QB Bo Nix, Jr. Auburn
NO NO … DON’T LEAVE! This is a covering-the-bases listing with Nix going into his third year as a starter working under a new coaching staff. He won’t have the same NFL-caliber targets he had in 2020 when he threw 12 touchdown passes, and … sorry. Okay, carrying on.
QB Brock Purdy, Sr. Iowa State
It only seems like he’s been around for 15 years, but yeah, he’s a senior. Assuming he doesn’t turn pro early, he’s a terrific veteran who should be able to put up even better numbers as the expectations are reasonably higher now.
RB Bijan Robinson, Soph. Texas
The superstar recruit of last year led the team with over 700 yards and four scores – to go along with two receiving touchdowns – averaging over eight yards per carry. He closed out the season with 172 yards and three scores against Kansas State, and 183 yards and a score in the bowl win over Colorado – averaging close to 19 yards per carry in those two games. Now he’s Steve Sarkisian’s running back to work with.
RB Isaiah Spiller, Jr. Texas A&M
The raw numbers probably won’t be there, but he might get a long look in the race in a Great Player, Top Team sort of way. He only ran for 1,036 yards and nine scores, and there are more explosive players in the backfield, but he’s going to be the main man for the Aggie O.