In the past decade observing Heisman candidates, six out of the ten first draft picks have been Heisman Trophy winners. Unlike others, the award is a tradition, and the recipients are the hardest working players while leading their program to what is usually a national championship appearance. Additionally, Heisman moments are considered to define a player, giving voters reasoning. While you can not predict a moment in time, you can use a criteria and standard to predict what type of player is worthy.
The trophy’s official website statement on a criteria: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” Some players lack perfect records, so the quotation is not literally interpreted, ex; QB Baker Mayfield pleads guilty on charges before winning. Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields, and Chase Young were all last year’s finalists. Coincidentally, the 2019 College Football Playoff’s Bracket featured all of the finalists. Expecting those teams will have finalists is a solid guess, but 2021’s class is just as good.
SAM EHLINGER, TEXAS, QB
In his junior year, Ehlinger had thrown for 32 touchdowns, including 3663 yards, at 65.2 percent. Having higher expectations, the Longhorns had disappointed in the win/loss section. Realistically, the team’s not close to a national championship. The only way Ehlinger’s considered for the Heisman is a Rose Bowl victory, and dominating in a strong Pac 12, as the Alamo Bowl won’t do it. Conference play won’t be easy play, but Texas has the skill to put him in as a Heisman candidate.
JUSTIN FIELDS, OHIO STATE, QB
In his 2018 season, Fields was the Georgia Bulldogs scrambling quarterback. He had been a legitimate force in a great backfield, throwing 42 attempts for 266 yards and four touchdowns, all with the likes of great halfback D’Andre Swift taking carries. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is his competition, and Fields’ mobility is a reason voters will make him the Heisman instead. Fields is a sure bet as a candidate. However, when it comes to victories, it is between him or the great Lawrence. Justin’s got the numbers already, throwing 3,273 yards for 41 touchdowns at an incredible 67.2 percent.
JAMIE NEWMAN, GEORGIA, QB
After three mediocre seasons at Wake Forest, averaging 7.5 wins over three years, Newman transferred to powerhouse Georgia. Newman’s only way to enter the stage this fall is a fantastic 2020; He’s a tremendous talent and is more than capable. A bid for the playoffs is what can get him into the discussion. Throwing 26 touchdowns for 2868 yards, at 60.9 percent last year, Newman has to become better. Most top programs play in the national championship, not the Pinstripe Bowl.
TREVOR LAWRENCE, CLEMSON, QB
The poster boy for quarterback prospects at 6’6”, 220 lbs, Trevor Lawrence has makeup similar to the great Peyton Manning. Thoroughbred quarterback is a gross under evaluation. Think about it like this: as a freshman, Lawrence led the Tigers to a National Championship and defeated the Crimson Tide. As a sophomore, Lawrence led the Tigers to a National Championship and lost the game versus the LSU Tigers. Going up until that game, Lawrence was undefeated as a starter. Lawrence may be in the least important conference in all of College Football, so statistically, he’s an anomaly. Throwing 36 touchdowns, 3665 yards, at 65.8 percent is an incredible feat.
SPENCER RATTLER, OKLAHOMA, QB:
At just 6’1” 190 lbs, Rattler has heard it when it comes to his size. With the Eagles drafting Jalen Hurts, Rattler will take over a legacy left before him. At a young age, he’s going to have to make a playoff run to save the name of Oklahoma football. The team in the past two years has been decimated in the playoffs. Can he do it? Will he be good? Sure. Good enough to be in Heisman voting. As long as he can bring the Sooners 10 wins, a chance at a conference championship, and talk of playoffs, voters will not have a reason to say no. Remember, he is a teenager, and he’s expected to lead a team, which is quite a tall order.
Frankly, all of the prospects named could be Heisman candidates. Every player could be a person in the crowd on the night of the award ceremony. However, there are only two guys who are truly candidates to take it home: Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. The two are not close in skill. Fields is a talent who can throw just as well as scramble; Lawrence can make a read and sling. Think about it like this: if Fields is perfect, he’ll win easily. If not, Lawrence is a no-brainer for voters.
My pick is Lawrence. Furthermore, Trevor Lawrence should be a first draft selection, even if Fields wins the Heisman award. Competitive Heisman Trophy races are just what the sport needs, as it’s been a while.