Taking an Early Look at Top Heisman Trophy Candidates
Picking the Heisman Trophy winner several months before the start of the season is risky business. Few Heisman Trophy odds projected Alabama’s Bryce Young and Will Anderson, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, and Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker to finish as the top vote-getters in the 2021 race.
Stroud currently leads in the Heisman hype category with odds listed at +175 to become Ohio State’s first Heisman Trophy winner since 2006. Alabama’s Young could become the second player to win back-to-back Heismans, however, he is currently second at +375 followed by Caleb Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma to Southern California.
All three players will head into the season more interested in helping their team win the NCAA football championship trophy than any Heisman odds.
Here is a look at the top contenders
Stroud Leading the Way
Stroud ranked in the top five in the country with 4435 passing yards, a 71.9 completion percentage, 10.1 yards per attempt, and a passer rating of 186.6.
This resulted in Stroud finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Even though 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is back, it is Stroud who currently has the best odds to win the Heisman.
About the only question for Stroud is how much will he miss Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who were the second and third receivers taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is back after leading Ohio State with 95 catches and 1606 receiving yards. With the way Ohio State recruits, there will be other pass catchers to emerge.
It won’t take long for Stroud to have a national platform to display his talents as Ohio State welcomes Notre Dame to Columbus for the 2022 season opener.
Young Starting Season in Second
Young was the overwhelming choice in the 2021 Heisman balloting receiving more than twice as many points as any other candidates.
Top receiver Jameson Williams and starting offensive tackle Evan Neal were taken in the top half of the first round in the NFL Draft. Sure-handed receiver John Metchie is also off to the NFL so there are some positions at Alabama that need some addressing.
A week 2 game against Texas could be interesting, although the early portion of the season is not exactly loaded with tough tests for the Crimson Tide.
No player has won back-to-back Heisman Trophies since Ohio State running back Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975.
With the Crimson Tide’s top two receivers, leading rusher, and best blocker all gone, it won’t be easy for Young. This is still a team loaded with talent so another Heisman runs for Young is not just possible but likely.
Alabama currently has the best college football odds to win a title in 2022, at +200.
Change of Scenery for Williams
Caleb Williams burst onto the scene as a Heisman candidate as a freshman at Oklahoma even though he wasn’t even the Sooner’s starting quarterback when the season started.
There will be an adjustment period playing in a different conference and with new teammates. It helps to have Riley there to guide him.
Williams comes in third at +800 in the Heisman odds. As long as he stays healthy, he figures to be there all season long in the Heisman race.
It will be interesting to see if Williams can keep Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke (+2500) and D.J. Uiagalelei (+2500) behind them as quarterbacks look to move up and challenge Stroud and Young.
Transfers Looking to Make Noise
Williams isn’t the only quarterback who is showing up on the list of Heisman Trophy candidates at a different school.
Jaxson Dart moved from Southern California to Ole Miss, Quinn Ewers is now in Texas after starting his college career at Ohio State. Former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel is now in Oklahoma. They are all among the top 10 players in the Heisman Trophy odds.
It would seem as if Dart is in the best position. There will be plenty of showcase games in the SEC for him to play in and it isn’t out of the question that he could have a season similar to what Matt Corral put together in 2021.
Gabriel will be playing for a first-year head coach as former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables takes over at Oklahoma while Texas is coming off a disappointing season. It is quite possible that Ewers own teammate (running back Bijan Robinson) could emerge as a better candidate.
A Vote for Defense
Running backs Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs of Alabama, and Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen could receive serious consideration for the award. Another player that should not be ignored is Alabama linebacker, Will Anderson. Anderson finished fifth a season ago after recording 17.5 sacks for the national finalists.
Another huge season could be in store for Anderson and after Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson ended up second in the 2021 Heisman voting, there is hope for defensive players after years of being undervalued in the Heisman hype.
Anderson is tied for 10th in the current odds which seems much too low.Follow us on Twitter