DeAngelis: Heisman Candidates to Watch
(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)
The 2019 Heisman Trophy race is continuing to heat up as the college football season goes on, and it is shaping up to be a close finish.
This year’s race is arguably the closest it has been in the past decade. There are five players that one could make a case for the Heisman Trophy winner. Here are my top five picks and reviews on who I think will take home the Heisman this year, as of now. It wouldn’t surprise if any of these candidates end up winning.
Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
Last Week vs. Auburn: 32-of-42, 321 YDS, ONE TD, ONE INT, 13 CAR, 31 YDS, ONE TD (W 23-20)
I’ve written a lot about Burrow this year, and his attention is definitely deserved. Burrow has been efficient, exciting, and pro-ready. His strong performances so far have surely put him on the radar of numerous NFL teams and made him a top quarterback prospect for next year’s draft. After an inconsistent first year for the Tigers, Burrow has dominated and taken advantage of every opportunity in his final college season.
The senior has started all eight games this season, completing almost 79 percent of his passes for 2,805 yards, 30 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. He has also run for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Additionally, Burrow hasn’t faced soft competition. He’s led his second-ranked Tigers to big wins in tough games against Texas, Florida, and Auburn. If Burrow continues his perfect play, he’ll be a Heisman favorite for sure and LSU could be on their to SEC and National Championship titles.
Jalen Hurts (QB, Oklahoma)
Last Week @ Kansas State: 19-of-36, 395 YDS, ONE TD, 19 CAR, 96 YDS, THREE TDS (L 41-48)
Hurts hasn’t led his team to an undefeated record this year, but he has been exceptional nonetheless. The graduate transfer from Alabama has the opportunity to become the third Oklahoma quarterback Heisman Trophy winner in the past three seasons, following in the footsteps of current NFL quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
The now 10th-ranked Sooners’ bad loss to Kansas State will hinder his College Football Playoff chances but Hurts still played a great game and kept his team competitive. Hurts has put up the best stats in the country by far this year. Through eight games, he has completed almost 74 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,469 yards, 21 touchdowns, and three picks. The dual-threat quarterback has also run for 801 yards and tallied another 13 touchdowns on the ground.
Only a year after being benched at Alabama, Hurts finds himself thriving and amid the Heisman race.
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
Last Week @ Ohio State: 20 CAR, 52 YDS, 1 REC, 5 YDS (L 7-38)
It’s safe to say that Taylor is the only great skill player on the eighteenth ranked Badgers. If he was given any form of offensive support over the last two weeks, there’s a good chance his team would still be amid the Big Ten and College Football Playoffs races. Either way, despite his struggles in last week’s game against Ohio State, a game where he was given no blocking whatsoever, Taylor remains the only non-quarterback on my Heisman watch list and the most talented running back in college football.
Through eight games, he has rushed for 1,009 yards and 15 touchdowns, only one short of his total from all of last season. Taylor has even developed as a receiver, catching 17 passes for 143 yards and four more touchdowns. Taylor will continue to get the carries and put up the big numbers, so if a quarterback doesn’t win the Heisman, it’ll be him.
Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
Last Week vs. Wisconsin: 12-22, 167 YDS, TWO TDS, 13 CAR, 28 YDS, ONE TD (W 38-7)
Once the top recruit in his high school class, Fields spent last season sitting behind Jake Fromm at Georgia. After transferring to Ohio State earlier in 2019, he has become the player everyone had expected him to be. Under Fields’ leadership, the third-ranked Buckeyes have become possibly the strongest, most well-rounded team in the country. Through eight games, he has completed almost 69 percent of his passes for 1,659 yards, 24 touchdowns, and one interception. On the ground, he has been equally solid rushing for 319 yards and nine touchdowns despite not running many designed runs.
His stats aren’t as eye-dropping as those of Hurts and Burrow, but he hasn’t been asked to do as much as those two. Also, with the touches he’s given, he has been equally effective or even more than his Heisman competitors. Fields is only a sophomore, but he is already, in my opinion, the best NFL prospect I’ve seen in years. A Heisman would suit him well.
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
Last Week vs. Arkansas: Did not play due to injury (W 48-7)
You have to give credit where credit is due. The junior gunslinger narrowly missed out on the Heisman last year to Kyler Murray, and he has played with a chip on his shoulder this season. Tagovailoa has started and played in seven out of eight games, completing almost 75 percent of his passes for 2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns, and one interception. He isn’t known as a running quarterback but is mobile and ran for two touchdowns as well this year. Tagovailoa underwent ankle surgery last week and is progressing well, but he might be out this week also. If his ankle doesn’t slow him down, you can count on Tua to continue to light up SEC defenses and make another strong Heisman push.
As always, let me know what you think. Are there any players on my list who you don’t agree with? Are there any players who I should’ve included on my watch list but didn’t?