The 10 best candidates for the Heisman Trophy if it’s not CJ Stroud or Bryce Young
Who are the top 10 Heisman Trophy contenders heading into the 2022 season if it’s not CJ Stroud, Bryce Young or Will Anderson taking the prize?
CJ Stroud will not win the 2022 Heisman Trophy.
Actually, he could — he’s certainly talented enough, and Ohio State will be in contention for the national championship all season — but that’s too easy.
That, and the Buckeye defense should be better, Stroud probably won’t have the same numbers, and he may not be quite as sensational.
Bryce Young will not win the 2022 Heisman Trophy.
Actually, he could — he’s certainly talented enough, and Alabama will be in contention for the national championship all season — but that’s too easy.
That, and impossible to repeat as a Heisman Trophy winner after Archie Griffin pulled the Twozie in 1974 and 1975.
Was Joe Burrow in any discussion to win the Heisman before 2019? He was hardly a blip at LSU, let alone nationally.
Could a wide receiver really win the greatest single trophy in any sport? It hasn’t happened since Desmond Howard made it in 1991 and DeVonta Smith was unstoppable in 2020.
How hard is it to win the Heisman Trophy? Fast, spontaneous, who were the favorites ahead of the 2021 season to win it?
Time is up. Yes, Bryce Young was one of the favorites, but he was behind Spencer Rattler — the former Oklahoma quarterback is now at South Carolina — and DJ Uiagalelei, who struggled through an ugly year for Clemson.
Stroud was high in odds, but so were Texas RB Bijan Robinson, Iowa State RB Breece Hall, North Carolina QB Sam Howell, Miami QB D’Eriq King, Arizona State QB Jayden Daniels, USC QB Kedon Slovis and Georgia QB JT Daniels.
Where was Pitt QB Kenny Pickett? He was hanging out with Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson about 50 miles from radar.
Here’s my advice – if you think your long shot option could do it, go for it. And if it’s possible to capture The Field, that’s your best bet.
With all that said, here are the top ten picks for winning the 2022 Heisman Trophy, aside from Bryce, CJ and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson – it’s SO hard to get the massive sack counts it takes to get close.
Remember, given how many finalists come out of nowhere, sometimes the wilder the reputation the better, so let’s start with some crazy flyers…
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10. Tyler Shough, QB Texas Tech
I’ve been trying to make Tyler Shough a thing for a few years, ever since he was in Oregon.
He’s got the talent, he’s got the tools and he’s got the NFL on his head to be a top pick. He now has the Texas Tech quarterback job after winning a three-way fight.
But really, why is he here? You know the western Kentucky offense that threw for 6,000 yards and 63 touchdowns last season? It is now in Lubbock under new offensive coordinator Zach Kittley.
Shough’s numbers should be astronomical.
9. Jarek Broussard, Michigan State RB
CHANCES: Off the board
There was a moment last season when Kenneth Walker won the Heisman. He tore up Michigan for five touchdowns – the race appeared to be over in November. Six carries for 25 yards against Ohio State ended that, but he had a Heisman-caliber season.
Wisconsin transfer Jalen Berger might have something to say about that, but Broussard — a Colorado transfer who rancored for 896 yards in six games in 2020 — has the potential to break out in Walker’s role.
8. Malik Cunningham, Louisville QB
Stats, stats, stats, stats, stats. It’s telling the world that Cunningham pulls off a Lamar Jackson — the former Louisville quarterback who won the Heisman in 2016 — but the numbers should be there.
The senior threw for nearly 3,000 yards with 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,000 yards and 20 points last year. If he can get started early and make a splash and Louisville can start winning right away, momentum will build for the Nov. 12 date in Clemson.
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7. Bijan Robinson, RB Texas
Robinson would likely have won the Heisman last season if it had been handed out at halftime in Oklahoma on Oct. 9. If he can stay healthy and if he’s capable of being the focus of a Texas offensive that will swing him around the court, he has a chance.
However, it could all end right away when Alabama arrives on September 10th. Or if he gets big and the Longhorns win, he could bag the Heisman. Or …
6. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB Alabama
The Texas game could be the showcase for the new Alabama starting to run back.
While Bryce Young and Will Anderson should be the headliners, Gibbs – a Georgia Tech transfer – has the potential to explode with his speed, home run hitting skills and potential to shine in the spotlight game after game after game.
5. Anthony Richardson, Florida QB
If you believe the NFL scouts, Richardson has already won the No. 1 draft Heisman, and maybe you’ll start outfitting him for one of those fancy yellow jackets. You couldn’t be wrong.
Richardson has all the skills and talent to have a big season and he has the offense to show off. Billy Napier’s attack will put Richardson in places to do big things and he’ll get a chance to make an early statement when Utah comes to town.
4. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee QB
Much like Louisville’s Malik Cunningham, the Heisman potential here is stats, stats, and more stats.
Hooker took over the first gig in Tennessee after a couple of games and ended up throwing for nearly 3,000 yards with 31 touchdowns and only three picks, and he was rushing for 613 yards and five touchdowns.
The starting quarterback on the Tennessee offense will be a stat monster, and if Hooker can rip Pitt, Florida and LSU early, the Heisman spotlight will be on when Alabama comes to Knoxville on Oct. 15.
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3. DJ Uiagalelei, QB Clemson
I still believe
So do the odds makers – +2500 just isn’t that high.
The formula works – who’s the most prominent star on the team that’s about to make the college football playoffs? Ohio State has Stroud, Bama has Bryce, and Clemson has…well, Clemson’s stars are on the defensive line, but it’s the quarterback that will be in the spotlight. A re-signed Uiagalelei should be in for a big rebound season as offense picks up again.
If he puts up big numbers early and rolls Clemson through NC State, Boston College, Wake Forest and Florida State, the stage is set for the South Bend showdown when the Tigers take on Notre Dame on Nov. 5.
Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards and two points and ran for a touchdown the last time he made that trip.
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Ohio State
Yes, Stroud is probably the right choice if you’re picking an Ohio State Heisman contender, but again, his numbers probably won’t be where they are in 2021. He’ll still be great, but he doesn’t have to bomb it away like him.
However, Smith-Njigba could be the guy to emerge as the main man after catching 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine points.
The 15-catch performance against Utah in the Rose Bowl set the tone, and it’s not crazy to think he could end up like DeVonta Smith with 117 catches for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 scores.
1. Caleb Williams, QB USC
Everything is perfectly set up.
Lincoln Riley offense, Jordan Addison to throw at, and relatively easy schedule to build the hype week in and week out. Williams will be at the forefront of Heisman racing for the first half of the season, and then comes the date in Utah that should decide his candidacy.
If he’s great against the Utes and USC keeps winning, the spotlight will be on UCLA and Notre Dame to wrap up the regular season. It’s all there to win the prize…
If it’s not CJ Stroud or Bryce Young or Will Anderson.
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