Day 24 of our college football countdown features the best players in the country. They’ll compete for the highest award in college football: the Heisman Trophy. If it seems like there are only quarterbacks and running backs on the list, you’re right. Unless you play one of those positions, you don’t really have a shot at winning the Heisman. Quarterback have won the last three straight, and eight of the last nine awards. The last time someone who wasn’t a quarterback or running back won was in 1997 when Charles Woodson won it as a cornerback. Wide receivers now must run the ball to be considered, and defensive players are basically eliminated by default. Still, this list is loaded with talent, and it’s going to be a tight race for the award in 2019.
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
If it weren’t for Kyler Murray, Tua would be trying to win back-to-back Heisman Tophies. Add that to the national championship loss his Crimson Tide sustained to Clemson, and you have one motivated quarterback. He threw for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns last year, but could eclipse those totals in 2019.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
It’s amazing what one game can do for your image. Lawrence played extremely well in his first season of college football, but the national championship game put him on the map. He’s a favorite for the Heisman, but will be competing with his own teammates for the award. Lawrence doesn’t run much, so he must put up insane numbers as a passer to win.
RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
Etienne has lightning-like speed, and has worked hard to become a better overall back. He broke out last year for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Tigers, and also caught two touchdown passes as well. Like we said earlier, Clemson’s loaded with talent, making it difficult for anyone to breakout.
RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
Swift returns as the most talented running back on Georgia’s roster, but his Heisman run will be determined by his touches. Elijah Holyfield shared the backfield with Swift, but he went pro. Still, guys like Brian Herrien and James Cook will receive touches to give Swift a break. After eclipsing 1,000 yards in a shared backfield, Swift’s bound to break out in a big way this season.
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
In just two years, Taylor’s rushed for 4,171 yards and 29 touchdowns. He’s averaging 6.9 yards per carry for his career. Those kind of numbers get you noticed, and Wisconsin’s star is doing so without much help. The Badgers struggles to find a solid quarterback continue, and defenses essentially load the box to stop Taylor. The problem is he’s too good, and Wisconsin’s offensive line excels at opening big lanes. Imagine how easy life would be if they had a quarterback to help out.
WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
If a receiver’s going to win the Heisman this year, it’s Moore. In addition to catching 114 passes last year, Moore rushed the ball 21 times. Jeff Brohm wants to get his star sophomore as many touches as possible. He exploded onto the scene last year for 1,471 total yards and 14 touchdowns, and that was just the beginning.
QB Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
If Nebraska’s hype is to be justified, it’s because Martinez improves on a solid season. Martinez and head coach Scott Frost are getting fans excited about a potentially great season. After producing over 3,200 yards and 25 touchdowns, Martinez is ready for more.
QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
It’s tough to win the Heisman if you’re Fromm. Still, he deserves recognition for what he does as a quarterback. He’s not going to beat teams with his legs, and he probably won’t put up ridiculous number. However, he gives his team a chance to win every week. Georgia fans hardly have much to complain about with him as their quarterback.
QB D’Eriq King, Houston
Still the most disrespected player in college football. After producing 50 (yes 50) touchdowns, King still doesn’t get the love he deserves. He was one of three quarterbacks to account for 50+ touchdowns last year, but didn’t get Heisman love. With Houston’s schedule this year, putting up another 50+ touchdowns wins him the award.
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert’s not one to ask for the spotlight, but his play warrants attention. He’s the biggest reason that the Ducks are considered national contenders, and he’ll have NFL scouts at every game. With the amount of talent surrounding him, there’s no reason he can’t put up big numbers in 2019.
QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Hey, Oklahoma’s won the last two Heisman Trophy’s, why not add a third? Hurts figures to be the next great Sooners quarterback, and Oklahoma appears poised for a third consecutive playoff appearance. There’s not a more poised quarterback in the country than Hurts, and that will yield huge dividends in big games.
RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
NFL Scouts already love his game after he burst onto the scene last year. He makes defenders miss with ease, and is a threat as a pass catcher too. After producing 1,908 yards and 18 touchdowns, the only thing holding him back is his team’s success.
WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Again, it’s nearly impossible for a receiver to win it, but Jeudy’s talented enough to make a run. He’ll be the top wide receiver prospect in next year’s draft, and his film is ridiculous. A big reason for Tua Tagovailoa’s success is his receivers, and Jeudy leads that group.
WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Colorado lined Shenault up everywhere to get him touches. He’s a great receiver, but they also put him in the Wildcat and let him run the ball. He gets to work with quarterback Steven Montez once again, and the Buffs are hoping that combination gets them to a bowl game this year.
QB Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Ehlinger’s received a ton of attention this offseason. First, there was this.
Then, followed criticism from various people, including hate from Baker Mayfield. It’s safe to say the Longhorns star will have plenty of eyes on him, and he’s got the talent to make a run at the Heisman.
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan
Michigan made the best decision ever by switching to a spread offense. It gives this group life, and benefits Patterson’s game. He’s proven to be a mobile quarterback, and can throw on the run better than almost anyone else. Spreading his weapons out should create a dangerous offense overall.
QB Bryce Perkins, Virginia
Underrated quarterback. Perkins isn’t just a runner, even though he nearly rushed for 1,000 yards last year. If he can get better protection than he received last year, his passing stats will improve (and they were already solid last year).
QB Khalil Tate, Arizona
Tate rushed for over 1,400 yards two years ago and followed that up with just over 200 last year. Arizona’s coaching staff worked on his passing, but took away his best trait. After improving his passing game, Tate should be unleashed in his final season with the Wildcats.
QB Cole McDonald, Hawaii
He’s a long shot for the Heisman, but McDonald has the ability to pass for over 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 more. Hawaii’s offense is back to being what it was under June Jones, but this time it’s with Nick Rolovich and McDonald. If he can stay healthy, McDonald’s a big time threat every game.
QB Mason Fine, North Texas
There may not be another player in the country that knows the playbook better than Fine. He’s basically an extension of the playcaller, giving the Mean Green a coach on the field. It will be tough for him to win the Heisman, but his 58 touchdown passes over the past two years prove he’s a great player.
RB AJ Dillon, Boston College
Injuries limited his season last year, but Dillon is a monster. Starting with his tree trunk legs, the man is a beast physically. Throw in a little speed and wiggle with his power, and it’s no wonder no one wants to tackle him. He’s due for a bounce back season as long as he can stay on the field.
RB Najee Harris, Alabama
Harris rushed for 783 yards and four touchdowns in a backfield he shared with Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs. Both left for the NFL, and Harris is the man. At 6’2″, 230 pounds, Harris isn’t fun to tackle. Even if you decide to go low on him, he can still run you over or hurdle you. Alabama’s passing game will receive a ton of attention, but the running game won’t skip a beat either.
QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
If Mond’s progression continues, he’ll be one of the best the Aggie quarterbacks ever. He improved dramatically last year as a passer (improved completion percentage by six percent) without sacrificing his running ability (474 yards).
QB Feleipe Franks, Florida
Franks has one of the strongest arms in college football, and working with Dan Mullen will make him a better quarterback. If Florida breaks out this year, it’s because Franks took a big step forward in his development. He could still improve his accuracy (58.4% completion last year), but we saw what Mullen’s influence can do for him. A Heisman Trophy isn’t out of the question if he keeps getting better.