5. QB Sam Howell, Jr. North Carolina
Will North Carolina’s running game be too amazing to keep Howell from rocking statistically, at least at a Heisman level?
Even though the Tar Heels were devastating on the ground and hit home run after home run with their great backs, Howell was special with close to 3,600 yards and 30 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, averaging over ten yards per throw with big play after big play.
He’s a next-level talent with 68 touchdown passes and a whole lot of experience in his first two seasons. To be in the Heisman mix he has to pull off a few massive wins and have North Carolina in the ACC title hunt, but he’s just good enough to do it.
4. QB (insert name of your choice) Ohio State
It’s not going to be Justin Fields, but it’s Ohio State. Everything is going to be okay.
Terrelle Pryor, to Braxton Miller, to JT Barrett, to Cardale Jones, to Dwayne Haskins, to Fields – let’s just say it’s been a pretty decent run of Buckeye quarterbacks.
CJ Stroud was the big recruit last year with the talent to be the next-star up, Jack Miller is a pro-style passer with nice skills, Kyle McCord was a big get in the latest recruiting class, and the star of expected stars – Quinn Ewers – is expected to sign on with the 2022 haul of talent.
Or the job might also be wide-open to the top transfer quarterback prospect of your choice.
However, as amazing as Ohio State quarterbacks have been, none of them have won since Troy Smith pulled it off in 2006.
3. QB Bryce Young, Soph. Alabama
Flip a coin on which style and which quarterback you liked in the 2020 recruiting class. DJ Uiagalelei was the dream of an NFL franchise passing talent, and he went to Clemson. Young was the dream of a playmaking dual-threat guy, and he signed with USC …
Until he went to Alabama.
Young is a smallish quarterback, but he’s ultra-quick and he can really, really throw. He wasn’t able to do much in his limited work with the 2020 Tide offense, but it’s his job to lose now for what will be another national championship-level offense.
2. QB DJ Uiagalelei, Soph. Clemson
Leave it to Clemson to go from Deshaun Watson, to Trevor Lawrence, to a 6-4, 250-pound uber-talent with the NFL tools right out of the box.
Thrown into a tough situation against Boston College in the middle of the season when Lawrence was out, and with the defense lousy in the first half, all DJ Uiagalelei did was engineer a comeback with 342 yards and two touchdowns.
But the moment was going to be too big for the true freshman in the game of the year against Notre Dame in South Bend. 439 yards and two touchdowns later – along with a rushing score in each of those two games – he gave Tiger fans a glimpse of things to come.
Even after the rough end to the season for Clemson, there’s another loaded team returning that’s going to be good enough to win the national championship.
It’ll all be led by a guy who’ll be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
1. QB Spencer Rattler, Soph. Oklahoma
It’s been way too long since an Oklahoma quarterback won a Heisman, or was even a finalist.
After a year off – Baker Mayfield won it in 2017, Kyler Murray won in 2018, and Jalen Hurts was a finalist in 2019 – OU will have a QB back in the mix in 2021.
Rattler was a different type of star Sooner quarterback, recruited by Lincoln Riley and not coming in as a top transfer like Murray or Hurts, or a walk-on like Mayfield was from Texas Tech. He’s not the dynamic runner like Murray or Hurts, and he’s not the pure passer like Mayfield, but he’s got the all-around mix of skills to put up massive numbers for yet another big season.
He struggled a bit early with his decision-making late in games – throwing three picks in a loss to Kansas State – but he got better and better as the year went on, helped the Sooners win the Big 12 title and rock Florida in the Cotton Bowl, and now he’s ready to be amazing.
Oklahoma should be College Football Playoff good, the receiving corps is going to be great, and it has the guy to run it all with a season that should end with a trip to New York – and that should be back on again, fingers crossed – and in the mix for the greatest individual award in sports.