10. QB D’Eriq King, Sr. Miami
How quickly can he come back from the torn ACL suffered in Miami’s bowl loss? He didn’t put up the massive numbers for the Canes like he did in 2018 for Houston – when he threw for almost 3,000 yards with 36 touchdowns, and ran for 674 yards and 14 scores – but he showed off his talent and ability to be the quarterback the program needed.
He hit 64% of his passes for close to 2,700 yards and 23 touchdowns with just five picks, and he ran for 538 yards and four scores before going down. He’s going into his sixth year as a college player, the Canes should be even better, and he’s got the talent to be amazing again – as long as he’s healthy.
9. RB Breece Hall, Jr. Iowa State
Now the college football world knows all about him.
The 6-1, 215-pounder didn’t receive a whole lot of national attention, and Alabama’s Najee Harris might have been the best running back in the country, but Hall wasn’t that far off – if at all – running for 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns with 21 catches and two scores.
Steady, he ran for over 100 yards in each of the first eight games and hit Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl for 136 yards and two scores on 34 carries. He’s a real threat for 2,000 yards if he can break off a few more big dashes.
8. QB Casey Thompson, Soph. Texas
If he is really the starter now with Sam Ehlinger off to the NFL, the sky’s the limit. No, the job is hardly his for certain, but the hype will start right away with a young, thrilling backfield of him and Bijan Robinson to turn the page on a new era of Texas football.
He has the talent, he has the playmaking ability, and the has the head coach in Steve Sarkisian who was able to take the Alabama offense and crank it up to a whole other level.
He didn’t get a whole lot of work, but he got everyone all fired up after he took over for Ehlinger in the bowl win over Colorado in the second half, completing 8-of-10 passes for 170 yards and four scores to go along with a little bit of running.
7. QB Kedon Slovis, Jr. USC
The 2020 season never really got rolling for the entire Pac-12, and USC always looked and played like it got a late wake-up call – that might have literally happened with the 9 am local start to the year against Arizona State – but Slovis still showed a penchant for coming through with thrilling late comebacks on the way to an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship.
A slew of key guys are leaving early for the NFL, but the coaching staff that uses the high-octane passing offense is still in place and there are still enough good receivers to make the thing go.
Slovis threw for over 1,900 yards and 17 touchdowns in his six games, but the interception problem at the end of the year has to stop.
6. QB JT Daniels, Jr. Georgia
He announced he’s coming back for another year – he’s just getting started.
He left high school early and was a superstar recruit for USC, throwing for 2,672 yards and 14 touchdowns and ten picks as he got his feet wet. Just when he was about to take off, he tore up his knee in his first game as a sophomore, Kedon Slovis blew up, and he was off to Georgia.
Was his knee ready? Was he back to 100%? No matter how and why he didn’t start early on for the Bulldogs, he was fantastic once he got his shot, hitting 67% of his chances for 1,231 yards and ten touchdowns and two picks in his four games of work, and he pushed the ball down the field as well – actually, better – as any passer in the Kirby Smart era.
Now he’s the guy to handle yet another team with national title-level talent.
2021 Heisman Candidates
– Top Five 2021 Heisman Candidates