Last week on the Saturday Morning Pregame, we chatted about the guys we think are the Heisman Trophy front-runners and the guys you need to be paying close attention to that are flying under the radar.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa are best positioned to take home the hardware in December. They are both QBs for teams that should roll through their regular season schedule. Tua was a Heisman finalist last year and Lawrence would have been had he been the starter Week 1.
Those two guys are easy picks and are definitely the most likely. But anybody could have told you that...
I put together this list of three guys I think could reasonably have a big enough year to put them in consideration to get an invitation to New York as a finalist for the most prestigious award in college sports. And if everything goes perfectly, and Lawrence and Tua stumble, they could conceivably win this thing.
Jacob Eason is beginning a new football life with the Washington Huskies after losing his starting QB job to Jake Fromm at Georgia. A lot is at play as to why I think Eason's worth a look, especially if you're a betting man.
First of all, he's entering a system he's practiced in for a year with offensive guru Chris Petersen as his coach, which should give him some under-the-radar experience.
Secondly, with that offensive-minded system, the Huskies should be in the mix to win the Pac-12 and could be hovering in the College Football Playoff picture if they manage to win 11 or 12 games on their schedule. It happened just a couple years ago with Jake Browning taking the snaps and I think it's more than possible it happens again.
Next, you have to look at what it might take statistically to be in the mix. You have to be in the 35 TD range with fewer than 10 interceptions. A completion percentage of at least 65 should be the lowest number you shoot for and staying healthy and consistent is a must. Eason was a little more erratic than that as a freshman and sophomore for Georgia, but he's older, in an offense better suited for his skill set, and isn't facing SEC defenses every week.
Lastly, if you like to drop money, my last check of the odds saw him hovering around +5000 in Vegas to win the Heisman. Laying 10 bucks on the dude would net you 500 smackers. Not bad.
Sam Ehlinger enters this season as the starting QB for a resurgent Texas Longhorn offense and should continue to improve from his stellar sophomore season in 2018.
As a junior, he's got more physical tools and more experience in the system... oh, and he plays in the Big 12, which has produced four of the last eight Heisman winners, all quarterbacks. Again, statistically, there will need to be more than the 25 touchdowns he threw for last year, but the rest of his numbers check out. Only five picks, around 65% completion rate, well over 3,000 passing yards, and he scored 16 extra touchdowns as a runner.
If Texas goes to the Big 12 Championship Game and (even more importantly) wins it, Ehlinger will be getting that call to go to New York. The latest look at the odds have him as a less friendly +1000 on the betting board, but the stage is set for him to be the most likely party crasher if Lawrence or Tua fall below expectations.
Here's where I get kind of crazy... I think Purdue could produce a Heisman finalist. Only one Boilermaker has finished in the top three in the Heisman voting since 1970 and that was Drew Brees in 2000.
But if you're a fan of Iowa or anyone else in the Big Ten, you probably saw Rondale Moore streaking around as a true freshman last season. Moore is listed mainly as a wide receiver but also returns most of the kicks and punts on the special teams unit and rushed for over 200 yards in special packages last year.
Last season, he was a Consensus All-American and led the Big Ten in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He was also second in the conference in yards from scrimmage, touchdowns, and kickoff return yardage. All of this was on top of leading the entire NCAA with 114 receptions. He was a TRUE FRESHMAN AT PURDUE!
There is reason to believe he could take a step back statistically because these are insane numbers, but I also think there's a reason to think he could actually improve considering his role in Jeff Brohm's offense.
The biggest question mark is the QB who will be tasked with delivering the ball to him: senior Elijah Sindelar. The 6'4'', 225 pound veteran was the main QB for his sophomore season in 2017 but was nothing better than average, and lost his starting gig to David Blough last season.
Blough has now graduated and there's little-to-no pressure on Sindelar entering his senior campaign. But if Moore has any shot at making a run at the Heisman, he'll need to match last year's numbers, Purdue needs to win at least 8 games, and the Boilermakers need to be in the mix for the Big Ten West title late in the season. For those things to happen, Sindelar has to take at least two steps forward.
It also should be noted that a player who primarily played wide receiver hasn't won this award since 1991.
Here's the complete list of Heisman Trophy winners that were listed at a pass-catching position:
- 1936 - Larry Kelley, Tight End for Yale
- 1949 - Leon Hart, Tight End for Notre Dame
- 1972 - Johnny Rodgers, Wide Receiver for Nebraska
- 1987 - Tim Brown, Wide Receiver for Notre Dame
- 1991 - Desmond Howard, Wide Receiver for Michigan
Out of 84 Heisman Trophy winners, only five have been pass catchers. That's less than six percent. And only two wide receivers have won since modern offenses were born in the college game in the late 1970's. These numbers prove it's incredibly difficult to win this trophy at a receiving position. But it's not impossible...
Heading into the season, you should be able to bet on Rondale Moore to win the Heisman at juicy odds around +5000.
You can hear Sean and I discuss this along with plenty more from the August 10th edition of the Saturday Morning Pregame right here: