Way-Too-Early 2021 Heisman Trophy Candidates
College Football season is just a couple of months away, meaning that one of the most coveted awards in sports— the Heisman Trophy— will soon be up for grabs.
Last year’s winner, DeVonta Smith of Alabama, was the first wide receiver to earn the award since 1991 and the first non-quarterback since Derrick Henry in 2015.
Although the season has not even begun, there is a crop of players that will be quietly eyeing the award as they prepare for their upcoming fall schedule. Here is a look at our way-too-early Heisman Trophy watch.
Early 2021 Heisman Trophy Candidates
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma Quarterback (+300)
A Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American last season, Rattler is expected to take the leap to national stardom in his second year under center full-time.
A majority of Oklahoma’s offense is returning, and with Lincoln Riley still calling the shots, the playbook is going to be wide open for Rattler to succeed.
Sam Howell, North Carolina Quarterback (+800)
Despite playing for a program that has not been considered a frequent manufacturer of pro-level talent, Howell has climbed into the conversation for the potential first-overall draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. UNC’s QB has a strong arm and loves to push the ball downfield and is coming off of a season in which he finished fourth in passing yards (3,586) and sixth in passing touchdowns (30).
The Tar Heels have a relatively easy schedule, as far as ACC teams go, and Howell could give himself a serious Heisman boost with an undefeated regular season.
D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson Quarterback (+650)
247 Sports’ tenth-ranked recruit in the 2020 class made two starts in 2020, filling in for Trevor Lawrence against Boston College and at #4 Notre Dame. In these two starts, the 6-foot-5 QB threw for 781 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions, also running across the goal line once in each game.
Clemson’s new man under center has tremendous shoes to fill but has the talent necessary to do so successfully.
Bryce Young, Alabama Quarterback (+400)
Young entered Alabama’s program tied for the best ranking that a Crimson Tide commit had ever received, even landing above the legendary Julio Jones. Young hardly played last year while Mac Jones was lighting up opposing defenses, but he will not mind having gotten the extra time to study and mentally prepare.
Alabama has all of the talent in the world surrounding him, and he could be the best quarterback product they have ever produced.
JT Daniels (+1800)
Daniels took over starting duties in the middle of last season and did not disappoint, throwing for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns in four games, including a 24-21 victory over #8 Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.
The senior QB has been known around college football as a tremendous talent since he first appeared on USC’s campus in 2018, and he could cap off his college career with the greatest individual achievement the sport has to offer.
Breece Hall (+3300)
A unanimous All-American, Hall led the nation with 1,572 rushing yards to go with 180 receiving yards and 23 total touchdowns. The tremendous efforts from the sophomore running back helped Iowa State reach the Big 12 Championship game and the program’s first major bowl victory, a 34-17 victory over #25 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
With another year of experience and offseason growth, Hall should establish himself as the best back in college and, perhaps, the Heisman Trophy winner.
D’Eriq King (+1200)
King will be getting a baptism of fire this fall, returning from a torn ACL with a Week One home stand against Alabama. King is a dual-threat QB with tremendous speed and athleticism, though he is also extremely comfortable uncorking a long ball over the top.
King finished 2020 with 2,686 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air to go with his 538 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in 11 starts and will get one last hurrah this fall as a redshirt senior.
*All odds courtesy of DraftKings*
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.