Top Five Heisman Contenders


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(Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Connor Easterday

It is October, which means college football season is well underway. The Heisman race has started to shape up as  several names have emerged from both big and small programs. Unfortunately, over the years, the Heisman trophy has turned into a quarterback-only award. The last non-quarterback to win was Derrick Henry in 2015, and since 2000, there have only been three total running back winners–the other 16 were quarterbacks. Anything can happen, but there is a great chance that this year is no different. So, with two months to go, I decided to compile a list of the top ten 2019 Heisman Candidates.

10. Anthony Gordon, QB Washington State
Washington State has had a dismal season so far, compared to the likes of 2018. However, stud Quarterback Anthony Gordon has been surprisingly impressive. The 6’3, 210 lb senior threw for an unreal nine touchdowns versus UCLA. His touchdown-interception ratio is quite high, and the guy is not afraid to run either. Head Coach Mike Leach has continued to unleash the quarterback. If things continue to go well, Gordon could submit himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the sport. On the other hand, he has been somewhat inconsistent. With fumbling issues, a bit of an overconfident arm, and a losing streak, Gordon’s season has a chance to fall off the rails. This is what makes him such an enticing Heisman candidate: High ceiling, low floor–the perfect formula for a dark horse Heisman.

9. Jake Fromm, QB Georgia
Fromm is a bit of an unlikely pick–not because of how he has performed this season, but because of how little he is asked to do in the Georgia offense. However, he does what he is tasked extremely well, and that is definitely worth something. With only one game in which he threw an interception, a sky high completion percentage, and one of the best passer ratings in college football, Fromm deserves some more recognition. He is a phenomenal leader both on and off the field; he is a communicator and operates the Georgia offense like a pro-quarterback. If he does not wind up being on the Heisman shortlist at the end of the year, just remember that it is not his fault.

8. Chase Young, EDGE Ohio State

Yes, I know that there has only been one primarily defensive player to win Heisman ever (Charles Woodson in 1997). Yes, I know that Heisman voters would most likely never pick a defensive player to win again. And yes, I know that this is not going to happen…probably. But if it did happen, it would become a historical achievement in the world of college sports, and Chase Young has had quite a historic season. If a defensive player were to ever win the Heisman Trophy again, it would probably be an Edge Rusher now that the Edge position has solidified itself as the most important on that side of the ball. And if this did happen, the player would most likely come from a major program such as…THE Ohio State University. It’s a bit of a stretch, but Chase Young for Heisman is a real thing. He has been dominant this season, compiling an outrageous amount of sacks and pressures early on. He’s also one of the odds on favorites to become the number one pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

(Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

7. Chuba Hubbard, RB Oklahoma State
If a running back were to win the Heisman this year, it probably would not be one from the BIG 12. So Hubbard is in fact a long shot. However, it takes one glance at Hubbard’s statistics to realize how great this kid really is. Through just six games, the sophomore back has totaled for 1,094 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 6.8 yards per carry. He has had two games in which he scored three times, and two games where he compiled over 250 rushing yards. One of which he came 4 yards shy of 300. Hubbard had 43% more rushing yards than any other player in the nation through the first six weeks of the season, according to Pro Football Focus. These numbers blow his Heisman competitors out of the water statistically. It makes him the perfect Heisman candidate…if it weren’t for the competition. Yes, playing in the BIG 12 means that defensively, the competition is always poor. While the numbers are still mind-boggling, it’s a lot easier to do these things when you’re facing defenses like Tulsa, Kansas State, and Texas Tech week to week. Still, Hubbard deserves much more praise than he currently receives. Being somewhat of an unknown player on a national landscape hurts Hubbard’s odds to get attention, but nonetheless he deserves it.

6. Sam Ehlinger, QB Texas
Ehlinger has been lightning this season. The fan favorite Texas tough guy is showing shades of classic Florida Tim Tebow. If it were not for a somewhat poor showing at West Virginia, and an early season loss versus LSU, he may have cracked the top three of this list. Ehlinger can scare you on every level. His arm power is revered as one of the best in the NCAA. He can run with power and when he does, he runs through you–not at you. His accuracy is great for a quarterback of his style, and with the ability to chop you up in the middle of the field, Ehlinger has it all. The skill set is similar to that of Cam Newton in 2010, who won the Heisman. If Texas wins out the rest of the season, and Ehlinger continues to play with this much ferocity, he has a legitimate shot at bringing home the trophy in December.

5. Jonathan Taylor, RB Wisconsin
Wisconsin football is known for a few things, but among all, it’s the run game that people think of first. Mike Dantonio, Michigan State Head Coach, and defensive guru described Wisconsin’s offense like this, “I think that’s where it’s got to start. You’ve got to be able to stop the run against these guys,” The team consistently has one of the best offensive lines in the nation, which leads to their running backs totaling an enormous amount of rushing yards. Well, the latest Badger workhorse is Jonathan Taylor, who resembles a Wisconsin running back better than anybody. Following in the footsteps of Melvin Gordon—who finished his junior season with nearly 2,600 rushing yards—is not an easy task. But Taylor has lived up to the expectations. Throughout his three years as the starter, he has been one of the most successful backs in college football. With 14 touchdowns through the first six games of the season, Taylor is making the case for an outside-the-box Heisman year. It’s still unlikely, but this season has been the peak of Taylor’s dominant career. As long as the Badgers keep on winning, Taylor’s going to get some buzz.

4. Justin Fields, QB Ohio State
We’re finally here…the top of the pack–we have reached the upper echelon of Heisman candidates.

For the Ohio State QB, it’s as simple as this: Justin Fields is the starting Quarterback on the best team in the nation. This statement alone makes the case for Fields’ Heisman campaign. However, there is much more to see here. The first year starter—I repeat, first year starter—has been great for the Buckeyes this season. Using his dynamic skill set as a runner to plow through defenses. While his statistics haven’t been through the roof, Fields has been extremely consistent. He has a phenomenal touchdown-to-interception ratio, and doesn’t have one poor performance the entire year, making him a true leader for the Buckeyes. When he is eventually asked to step up and make a play, that will be when we know where Fields should be placed on this list. Whether it’s number one or number ten, we will have an answer. Until then, we are left guessing. So is what we’ve seen enough to make him the front runner, at this point? Probably not. Is it enough to make him the front runner by the end of the season? Possibly.

3. Joe Burrow, QB LSU
LSU is a program built on the backs of their defensive prowess, specifically their secondary. While those things are still phenomenal this season, there’s something else that has led to their success: the starting quarterback. Coming out of nowhere, Joe Burrow is officially a top-tier contender for the Heisman. He has been one of the most impressive players in the nation, showing off his live arm and lethal accuracy. Burrow’s best trait though, is his mentality; he is a winner through and through. After the Tigers’ 42-28 beat down on Florida, Burrow was quoted saying “good is not good enough.” This is the mindset of a quarterback who will do anything to win. While he needs to stay consistent, and LSU needs to keep winning, there’s a great chance that Burrow’s name will be on the billing for the Heisman award at the end of the year.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama
Tagovailoa finally faced viable competition on Saturday, versus the SEC rival Texas A&M. This made the superstar quarterback look somewhat human. He completed only 61.8% of his passes, and threw his first interception of the year. Still though, Tagovailoa is the most efficient quarterback in football, and the likely number one pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. So much so that the term, “Tank for Tua”, has gone viral. Somehow, someway, Tagovailoa has actually improved upon his stellar sophomore season, leading to a phenomenal 2019 Heisman campaign for the greatest Alabama quarterback of all time.

1. Jalen Hurts, QB Oklahoma

(Photo: Kevin Jairaj/USA Today)

Lincoln Riley has it figured out. Two years ago, Baker Mayfield, a two-star walk-on with almost no scholarship offers, won the Heisman and became the number one pick in the NFL Draft. Last year, Kyler Murray, a 5’9 baseball player won the Heisman and became the number one pick. Now here we are, once again. This time last year, Hurts was sitting on the Alabama bench waiting for his team to create a large lead which would allow for the coach to  decide to put the backup in. All hope was lost for the once promising quarterback. When it was announced that he would transfer to Oklahoma, people still doubted him. They said that he can’t throw, he isn’t accurate, he has a poor arm. But here we are. Jalen Hurts is one of the front-runners for the Heisman award and is in actual consideration for a first round draft pick. While Hurts has been phenomenal both on the ground and in the air, much of the credit is due to Head Coach Lincoln Riley; he is the offensive mastermind who seemingly can turn any quarterback, no matter how talented, into a Heisman contender. Despite multiple offers to be an NFL Head Coach, Riley stays in Norman, Oklahoma. This is why Jalen Hurts, once the most doubted player in college football, is now looked at as a leader, a winner, a phenomenon… Lincoln Riley has done it again.