Warrior Weekly: Heisman Hopefuls

Max Brande gives his take on prospective Heisman Trophy winners.

Credit: Owen Smith

Max Brande gives his take on prospective Heisman Trophy winners.

Max Brande

With the college football season more than halfway done, one question comes to my mind: who is going to win the Heisman? Everyone will say that the winner will be this quarterback or that quarterback, but I wonder if this will be the first time in 22 years that a defensive player or transfer quarterback will win the Heisman. This week, I put together a list of my top five candidates to win the Heisman Trophy on Dec. 14.

#5: Justin Fields, Ohio State, QB

This transfer from Georgia has looked outstanding, leading Ohio State to an impressive 8-0 record and ranking No. 3 in the country. Fields has already passed for 1,659 yards and shows no signs of slowing down. 

As good as Fields is, though, he can’t do it alone. Receivers like star K.J. Hill make Fields’ job easier by being Fields’ primary receivers. At the end of the day, Fields has some catching up to do if he wants to be as good as quarterbacks such as Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts. In my mind, Fields is a special player, but he is not Hurts quality. But is he good enough to be a potential Heisman winner? Absolutely.

#4 Joe Burrow, LSU, QB

In my mind, No. 5 on the list is pretty set in stone, but the top four spots are anyone’s game. Joe Burrow has been waiting for his time to break out and become Heisman caliber, and this year he has done just that. After transferring from Ohio State this past summer, Burrow has looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the country. 

With 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions this season, Burrow has the fourth best QBR in the country at 91.2. Burrow also has the second most passing yards in the country, racking up 2,805 yards, and he also leads the SEC in passing yards. 

Burrow’s best performance of the season so far has certainly been against Florida where he threw for 293 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Burrow is a dynamic, athletic and truly exceptional quarterback. He will be playing football on Sundays for years to come.

#3 Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, QB

Tua Tagovailoa is certainly one of the best quarterbacks in the nation on arguably the best team in the country. With Hurts transferring to Oklahoma, the entrance of Tagovailoa into the 2018 National Championship gave him the opportunity to put his name down as one of the best players in the nation this and last year, and he is doing that to the fullest. 

Tua leads the nation with a QBR of 95.8, which is almost enough said right there. Alabama, however, has played only one AP top 25 team in Texas A&M, and this is the sole reason why Tua is No. 4 and not No. 3. However, in that game against A&M, Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns and threw for 293 yards. If it wasn’t for that game, I would have a hard time putting Tua in my top five. 

#2 Chase Young, Ohio State, DE

The last time a defensive player won the Heisman Trophy was Charles Woodson in 1997. If Chase Young wins the award this year, he will go down as one of the best to ever play college football. Since it’s been 22 years, Young needs to go above and beyond if he wants the award because of how offensively dominated this award is. Out of Ohio State, Chase Young is the only defensive player in the country to be in the conversation.

Young has 29 tackles, 13.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. These are quite impressive numbers on the defensive side of the ball. One of the most influential games for Chase Young and this Heisman run was against Wisconsin on Oct. 26, where he recorded four sacks and six solo tackles, which is extremely impressive and should not be taken lightly.

#1 Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, QB

Hurts transferring to Oklahoma was one of the smartest things he has ever done. He knew he wasn’t going to be getting any playing time at Alabama, so he went somewhere where he knew he could be in the spotlight. He also doesn’t have the pressure he would playing for Nick Saban at Alabama. Hurts fits right into the Big 12 style of play: fast paced and offensively driven. In their five games against Big 12 opponents so far this year, the Sooners average 45.4 ppg. This is exactly what I would expect from a Big 12 team, especially with the powerhouse of Jalen Hurts running the offense. 

Hurts’ numbers this year are just astonishing. He has thrown for 2,469 yards this season and has a QBR of 94.7, putting him at No. 1 in this ranking. Hurts’ single game records are also mind blowing. In a Big 12 matchup against Texas Tech, Hurts threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns. Any quarterback that throws for over 400 yards in one game needs to be in the conversation for the Heisman. These are numbers that are hard to wrap your brain around, that’s how good they are. Hurts is 100% in the conversation, but he needs to remain stellar because the competition around him is so strong.