Since 2000 there have been 16 Heisman Memorial Trophy winners. Thirteen of them have been quarterbacks. The other 3 have gone to RB’s for a program with a shot at a national title. (Reggie Bush had his trophy vacated, but he still counts for this discussion).
Many believe the evolution of the spread and “Air Raid” style offenses bring an increased value to college football more so than any other position. Last year Derrick Henry won the title while helping Alabama win the College Football Playoff, getting Nick Saban another ring.
Can a running back do it two years in a row? I believe so. As much as people like to say the running back position is dying we have two of the most dominant players at the position that we have seen in the last 20 years. Can they overtake the looming cloud of Deshaun Watson?
Here are my top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates.
5. Myles Garrett- DE Texas A&M– A Defensive player? Yes this may seem like a stretch, but I believe Myles Garrett can have a season similar to the one Terrell Suggs had at Arizona State (24 in 2002). If he is able to get to 18 or 19 sacks and A&M can reach 10 or 11 wins, he has to be in the conversation.
4.Dalvin Cook- RB Florida State– He finished 7th in Heisman voting last year and racked up nearly 2,000 all purpose yards as a sophomore. What can he do for an encore? Opening the season against Ole Miss, with road games against Louisville and Miami, he can start his campaign off right. Having a Heisman hopefuls duel against Deshaun Watson in a primetime game will also keep even casual fans glued to the television. I don’t see any defenses being able to slow him down this year.
3. Leonard Fournette- RB LSU– “He plays like Adrian Peterson!!!”, those were the first words that came to mind when I saw Fournette suit up for LSU. He is a combination of speed, strength, and agility that no other player in the country has. You know you are watching something special when opposing players are scared to tackle him (Auburn I’m looking at you!). He can easily top 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns if Les Miles doesn’t wear him out to early in the season.
2. Deshaun Watson– QB- Clemson– He is the best QB in college football. His effort to dismantle Alabama’s defense came up just short in the National Championship game. He threw for over 4,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 more. This year they have even more weapons at wide receiver and I think Watson will lead Clemson to the National Title. I see him throwing for over 4500 yards and rushing for 600 more. 55 Total TD’s sounds like a video game, but with this offense on all cylinders, would you expect anything less.
1.Christian McCaffrey– RB- Stanford– He’s the most complete running back in college football. He rushed for over 2000 yards last season and also had over 600 yards receiving. He’s also a threat to take any kick back to the house. While his touchdown numbers were low last year (15), expect him to become the most dominant running back in college football since Reggie Bush in 2005. He is that dynamic, and he has a chance to surpass his totals from a year ago. It will be a close race all season long, but I look for McCaffrey to bring home the trophy.