College football season is here and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson will attempt to become just the second player win the Heisman Trophy twice. Justin Worsley (JW), Andrew Young (AY) and George Stanley discuss their favorites for the Heisman this season:
Who is your favorite to win the Heisman?
AY: While there are many very strong contenders for Heisman this season, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield may have the easiest road to the Heisman Trophy. Besides already having put up great numbers and finishing in the top four in Heisman voting the past two seasons, Mayfield brings back the most talented offensive line in college football. Also, playing in the Big 12 will give him the opportunity to put up huge performances against lackluster defenses. The Big 12 adds a title game this year that could provide a signature moment as well.
JW: Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett wins it. The Buckeyes are ranked eighth in our preseason top 25 and have a roster loaded in talent that will be led by Barrett, who is the only three-time captain in Ohio State history. He will have ample opportunities to make his case, including a Week 2 matchup against Mayfield along with inter-conference battles between Penn State and Michigan.
GS: It’s almost impossible for a Heisman winner to repeat, but I trust in Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson’s college game. His stats last year sell themselves, but I predict an even bigger year with added experience.
What defensive player deserves to be in the conversation?
GS: It seems Florida State defensive back Derwin James is getting the early hype for defensive Heisman. I still believe the only way a defensive player can win is with the Charles Woodson approach, where he contributes on offense or as a returner as well. So, unless another player emerges, I don’t believe any defensive player deserves an invite because it is an offensive award.
AY: Derwin James is getting all the attention in the Florida State secondary, but don’t be surprised if it is his teammate Tarvarus McFadden in New York. McFadden had eight picks last year, and if he takes a couple back to the house this year, especially in marquee games against Alabama and Louisville, the chatter may get louder for the top corner in college football.
JW: I think if it is anyone, it will be Derwin James. He can play practically anywhere on the field for the Seminoles and is incredibly frustrating for opposing offenses. If Ndamukong Suh can get an invite to New York, then James can too.
Who is the overrated Heisman candidate?
JW: I think he’s going to be the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but I don’t think USC quarterback Sam Darnold wins the Heisman. To start, Darnold is working with a new group of receivers and even worse, USC has no bye weeks on his schedule. The lack of time off could cause him to wear out a bit late in the year.
GS: Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma. With Bob Stoops stepping down and Mayfield’s immaturity, it will be hard to carry a Heisman campaign. He also loses many weapons on offense.
AY: While there is no doubt he is a proven winner in his teams’ system, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has shown through the years that he is just a spoke in the Ohio State wheel and not the guy spinning it. An inability to throw the deep ball could really hamper Barrett’s odds. Without Curtis Samuel’s ability to take a screen to the house every time he touches the ball, look for Barrett’s stats to take a bit of a dive.
What under-the-radar candidate do you like?
AY: Washington State quarterback Luke Falk is the perfect Air Raid quarterback. Any quarterback in Mike Leach’s system will always put up numbers, but the difference with Falk is that he has the ability to truly take over a game and win. It’s conceivable for the Cougars to start 4-0, pitting them in a marquee game against USC. If Falk can outduel Sam Darnold and collect another marquee win against Jake Browning and the Washington Huskies late in the year, Falk will be right in the thick of the Heisman conversation.
JW: He has been nicked up in his collegiate career, but Georgia running back Nick Chubb is a very good running back that everyone seems to have forgotten about. George has a competitive team, but Chubb will be the key to put them over the top in a tough SEC.
GS: Saquon Barkley gets a ton of attention at Penn State, but don’t sleep on his quarterback Trace McSorley. He’s going to take votes away from Barkley, which is why Barkley won’t win the Heisman, but if McSorley builds on a 2016 campaign that saw him throw 25 touchdowns to just five interceptions, he’s going to be in the conversation.
What are the odds of Lamar Jackson repeating?
GS: I’m in the minority, but I like his chances. Jackson is a very good college quarterback who is going to terrorize the ACC in 2017.
AY: Jackson is the most exciting player in college football, but poor performances late in the season make you wonder if teams have found the answer to him. Florida State will be healthier this year when they face the Cardinals. Lastly, there wasn’t much competition for the Heisman last season. Jackson will have to play to even higher standards than he did last year and win 11 games since the schedule is not impressive. I will say he chances are 10 to 1.
JW: Thirteen players have returned to school after winning the Heisman Trophy and only one has won it again, so the odds aren’t in Jackson’s favor.