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The Heisman Watch: Ten Players Who Have Started To Separate Themselves From The Pack

October 20, 2015

 Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch                                                                             photo credit



For the first time in recent memory, the Heisman race seems very unsettled midway through the regular season.


There is a strong likelihood that a player who has not been on the lips of the so-called-experts could be named the most outstanding player in college football.


So far, a defensive player has not made enough noise to break into my Top 10. (You all know how badly I want a defensive player to win this award). There is still time for a breakthough. 


These ten offensive players (in no particular order) have made my head turn the most.


Leonard Fournette, running back, LSU


Why I'm sold: Fournette is fun to watch. He almost seems to eat defensive linemen and linebackers as he gallops through the trenches and makes mincemeat out of defensive coordinators' call sheets. He also has a great story—you really want to root for him. 


Why I'm not sold: Of the six teams the Tigers have beaten, none are currently ranked. Voters want to see how Fournette does against better defenses. 



Christian McCaffrey, running back, Stanford


Why I'm sold: McCaffrey has already bested 2009 Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart's single game rushing record when he rushed for 243 yards against UCLA.  McCaffrey is nationally ranked first in multi-purpose yardage with 1,518 yards.


Why I'm not sold: Heck, quarterback Andrew Luck failed to win the Heisman Trophy while playing at Stanford. The Cardinal don't receive a lot of Heisman attention and that is a problem for McCaffrey. 



Dalvin Cook, running back, Florida State


Why I'm sold: Cook is a workhorse and is exciting to watch. He has dug the Seminoles out of more holes than any player on the team. He's so difficult to bring down.


Why I'm not sold: Florida State's schedule gets fluffier and fluffier as the season wears on. Clemson and Florida are its only two remaining serious challenges—voters may view Cook's numbers as over-inflated.



Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Ohio State


Why I'm sold: Elliott has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game thus far. He also had a 274-yarder against Indiana. He is a workhorse.


Why I'm not sold: Voters like a player who plays for a national title contender. Ohio State is currently a contender but... it does not look like one. 



Devontae Booker, running back, Utah


Why I'm sold: Booker looks hungry all of the time. He is probably one of the most underrated backs in the Power 5. He is built like an anvil. He even can throw touchdown passes with this left arm. 


Why I'm not sold: He can have lapses of quietness. He needs to make noise in all four quarters.



Paxton Lynch, quarterback, Memphis


Why I'm sold: Lynch has completed 71 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and one interception. He even has a signature win over Ole Miss.


Why I'm not sold: It is tough to get love when you are playing in the Group of 5. Lynch will have to do more than his Power 5 counterparts to get the same respect. 



Jared Goff, quarterback, Cal



Why I'm sold: Goff is the best pure passer in the country. The way he can stare off a receiver until the very last second should make N.F.L. GMs drool.


Why I'm not sold: Every candidate gets one mulligan. Goff burned his against Utah (5 INT). With one of the toughest schedules in the country, it is unlikely Cal and its quarterback will avoid another mulligan-like game.


John "JuJu" Smith-Schuster, receiver, USC


Why I'm sold: Yards-after-catch. Whoaaaaa!


Why I'm not sold: USC has already lost three games. It will not be competing for the College Football Playoff. Voters like to see Heisman winners in championship games. 



Will Fuller, receiver, Notre Dame


Why I'm sold: Fuller plays at an elite school and torched speedy USC defensive back Adoree Jackson on Saturday. There are a lot of Heisman voters in the Midwest who vote for the local talent. 'Nuff said.


Why I'm not sold: Head Brian Kelly is a "team first" kind of guy so do not expect him nor the school to start up a Heisman campaign for Fuller. 



Trevone Boykin, quarterback, TCU


Why I'm sold: Trevone Boykin is the heart of the Horned Frogs' offense. With a 25-5 TD-INT ratio and a 180.71 quarterback rating, Boykin is definitely in the Heisman conversation. 


Why I'm not sold: Last year Boykin finished fourth in total Heisman votes. Was that his biggest opportunity? Ask Andrew Luck, a two-time Heisman bridesmaid in 2010-11. Also, TCU has dropped in the rankings despite a 7-0 record. 


Final Note


This list is subject to change (and most likely will change). A gentle reminder: USC quarterback Cody Kessler and Georgia running back Nick Chubb were very high on my list in September. 


Sit down and strap yourself in. The Heisman race is a twisting, rocking rollercoaster ride that will continue to take on new passengers while dropping others off. 


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