Keep in mind that 2 out of the last 3 Heisman winners were redshirt freshmen. Most of the guys on my list are extreme outside shots at winning, but they are worth thinking about.
Plus, it’s really early and more guys will rise in the Spring and especially in the Fall. But, this is my list for early Heisman favorites and this is definitely subject to change.
1. Trevone Boykin – TCU: Boykin just exploded onto the scene in 2014 and should have another spectacular season in 2015. The national media doesn’t think about TCU very often, but Boykin is exciting with the ball in his hands. He could top 4,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing this
2. Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State: He just destroyed the competition at the end of last season and finished up with nearly 1,900 yards on the ground. Outran a very fast Alabama team in the playoff game while going over 200 yards rushing. Big, strong, and fast Elliott has it all. The pride of St Louis.
3. JT Barrett, Cardale Jones or Braxton Miller: Winner of this competition has a good shot at winning the Heisman. All 3 players are capable of leading the Buckeyes to another title. My money is on Barrett, but Jones was spectacular as well. Miller probably transfers if he winds up in 3rd. To make matters more interesting, the Buckeyes brought in 2 more Quarterbacks in their last recruiting class.
4. Cody Kessler – USC: The Trojan Quarterbacks have won the Heisman twice in this century and Kessler could be the latest if USC has an outstanding season. Kessler threw for a boatload of yards last season and should do it again in 2015.
5. Leonard Fournette – LSU: Lot’s of hype has followed Fournette since he was the top rated recruit in the country last year. Many thought he was a disappointment as a freshman but he wound up with over a 1,000 yards rushing and should do it again this year.
6. Derrick Henry – Alabama: Split time with TJ Yeldon last year but should have the job to himself this season. Henry is a big, strong and fast guy that can move piles. He finished with just under 1,000 yards in 2014 and expect him to crush that number in 2015 unless his coaching staff wants to give Kenyon Drake more carries.
7. Dak Prescott – Mississippi State: Media was in love with Prescott last year for a while and then they were done with him. He’s still the same player and should have a good cast surrounding him. Obviously, he is a stout runner as well as passer. When you run for right at 1,000 yards and throw for 3,500 you are doing something right.
8. Samaje Perine – Oklahoma: Perine was the top freshman Running Back in the country as far as numbers go. He out shined Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb and ran for 1,713 yards a year ago. He broke the NCAA single game rushing record by going for 427 yards against Kansas. The 5-11, 245 sophomore should have another brilliant season.
9. Nick Chubb – Georgia: Brilliant freshman Running Back took over for Todd Gurley last season and impressed. He is somewhat smaller than Perine, but he is faster and a threat to take it the distance at any moment. Chubb finished second in the SEC in rushing with 1,547 yards. With Chubb in the lineup the Georgia Bulldogs are a threat next season.
10. Justin Thomas – Georgia Tech: Option Quarterback that is as exciting as any college player in the nation to watch. Thomas is super quick and handles the ball spectacularly. He’s got an excellent arm, but they don’t throw the ball as often as some offenses.
11. Laquan Treadwell – Ole Miss: Treadwell was Ole Miss’ top player last season and they took a turn for the worse when he went down against Auburn. Super tough play maker at Wide Receiver as well as an excellent blocker. It’s been years since a Wide Receiver has won the trophy, but Treadwell is plenty good enough.
12. Duke Williams – Auburn: The Auburn coaches played conservatively the last couple of seasons and didn’t use Duke Williams as effectively as he could have been used. Super athletic and big play guy will make the tough catches in traffic and make the hardest catches seem routine. Big body guy with good speed.
13. JJ Consentino – Florida State: There was a time when a lot of the great Quarterbacks came out of Western Pennsylvania. That could be true again if Consentino wins the job at Florida State. He will need to beat out Sean McGuire and John Franklin, but he has the talent and a good supporting cast in Tallahassee.
14. James Conner – Pittsburgh: The Panthers coach left for Wisconsin and the Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi took over. It remains to be seen how the new coaching staff will use Conner or he might be higher ranked on my list. The 250 pound Conner was the bell cow of the Panther offense last season running for 1,765 yards and 26 Touchdowns. If they feed him the ball, look for more of the same in 2015.
15. Connor Cook – Michigan State: The Spartans have been Quarterback U of late placing more guys in the NFL at Quarterback than any other school. Cook should make an NFL squad in 2016. He was awesome in the Cotton Bowl leading his team from behind to beat Baylor. Plus, he has a solid Offensive Line in front of him. He has more of a chance at winning the Heisman than I do of being elected President of the US, but not too much more of a shot. Still, he is worth mentioning here.
16. Dalvin Cook – Florida State: When last seen, Cook was fumbling the ball against Oregon in the playoffs. But, Cook is not that kind of a player and will prove that this next Fall. Cook is as explosive of a Running Back as any I have seen. Just super quick and hits top end speed so suddenly. The problem could be for Cook and Consentino or whoever wins the starting job at Quarterback is that the Seminoles lost 4 out of 5 Offensive Linemen.
17. Joseph Yearby – Miami: Yearby is the twin of Dalvin Cook. Just super explosive and reaches top end speed so quickly. He will ease the pain of losing Duke Johnson almost immediately and produce some big numbers for the Canes. Yearby ran for over 500 yards as a true freshman.
18. Jake Coker – Alabama: Everybody thought Coker would win the job last season. He would have been better off just staying at Florida State as far as playing time. The Crimson Tide starting
Quarterback will always get a lot of attention by the media and if Coker winds up as the starter look for him to be in the limelight all year long. Coker threw for over 400 yards and 4 Touchdowns in 2014 and looked like a future starter.
19. Deshaun Watson – Clemson: I have been promoting Watson as the next big thing since before last season started. Watson had to battle through injuries last year and recently had surgery on a torn ACL. He will miss the Spring, but should be back hopefully better than ever in August. Watson threw for over 1,400 yards as a true freshman before being lost for the season.
20. Maty Mauk – Missouri: People keep writing off the Tigers and then Missouri keeps winning the SEC East. Mauk will be in his third season starting if you count his freshman year when he got to fill in for the injured starter, James Franklin. Mauk is a talented player that could possibly lead the Tigers to their third straight SEC East Championship.
21. Joshua Dobbs – Tennessee: The Volunteers were a completely different team with Dobbs in the lineup late last season. Dobbs led them from behind against South Carolina to really get things going. The Vols were 3-5 before Dobbs started and 4-1 after he started. He only threw for 1,200 yards and ran for just under 500 but he makes their offense go.
22. Patrick Towles – Kentucky: Whether this guy makes any Heisman Trophy lists, he is still a great player and he might come out after next season and go high in the 2016 NFL Draft. Towles is 6-5, 240 with a strong arm and some quick feet. I am not comparing him to Andrew Luck, but he is similar in athletic ability. If the Wildcats have a huge season, look for Towles to climb in the rankings.
23. Christian Hackenberg – Penn State: Hackenberg looked great as a true freshman under former coach Bill O’Brien, and he struggled last season under new coach James Franklin. Look for Hackenberg to regain form this season as the Nittany Lions return somewhat to the national scene. Their defense was incredible last season and saved them, but look for the offense to pull it’s own weight this season and Hackenberg to improve and then announce for the NFL Draft. I know some readers are laughing at this choice, but just watch.
24. Jacoby Brissett – North Carolina State: As a self proclaimed amateur talent scout, I really, really love this guy. The former Gator Quarterback from West Palm Beach, Florida is a talent. He is big and strong at 6-4, 230 and is a solid runner. He has a super strong arm and threw for over 2,600 yards last season and ran for over 500. He completed 23 Touchdown passes and ran for 3 more scores. NFL scouts are all over this guy.
25. Driphus Jackson – Rice: My blog, my listm most of these guys have next to no chance of making it to New York City for the Heisman Trophy Presentation, much less win it.
I love to watch this kid play. He has that Everett Golson feel to him before Golson started turning the ball over so much. He can run and he can throw and he makes incredible throws on the run. He has less than zero chance of making it on the Heisman list, and he probably has zero chance at making an NFL squad as a Quarterback since he is 6-0, 210. But, this kid is what college football is all about. He’s just a fun guy to watch.