Tuesday, September 20, 2016

HEISMAN WATCH #1 FOR 2016

By: Connor Glowacki

It has already been a crazy first three weeks of college football that has been loaded with upsets, dramatic finishes and new storylines. And one of the biggest individual storylines to follow will be the Heisman watch.

Players to keep an eye on:

9.) Running Back Dalvin Cook (Florida State)

8.) Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (Houston)

7.) Running Back Nick Chubb (Georgia)

6.) Linebacker Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)


...And now the top five!


Image result for deshaun watson
Photo from Sporting News.
5.) Quarterback DeShaun Watson (Clemson)

     Watson came into the 2016 college football season off of the heels of a sensational sophomore year with Clemson and an unforgettable performance in the National Championship loss to Alabama where he generated almost 500 yards of offense and four touchdowns by himself.
     He also entered as one of the favorites, if not the prohibitive favorite, to bring home this year's Heisman after finishing third a year ago.
     While he has been good so far, he hasn't exactly lit the gridiron on fire in the season's first three games. Watson has thrown seven touchdown passes to three interceptions so far, including two interceptions in a Week 2 win over Troy. He has also only rushed for 84 yards to begin the 2016 season, which is well off his 2015 pace.
     That being said, Watson has already thrown for 692 yards and will get a chance soon to shine against tougher competition in the ACC. A few bigger performances and he could catapult himself right back to the top of this list.

4.) Running Back Leonard Fournette (LSU)

Image result for leonard fournette
Photo from Fox Sports.
     With 1,953 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in 2015, it's easy to assume that Fournette was going to win last year's Heisman. But he struggled against tougher competition as SEC play wore on and was passed by the eventual Heisman winner, Alabama running back Derrick Henry.
     Fournette returned for his likely final season with LSU in 2016 as one of the favorites again for the Heisman and he's played well enough in the two games he has played in so far to continue being considered.
     Fournette has 285 rushing yards this season, including a 147 yard and two touchdown performance in LSU's 23-20 win over Mississippi State. What could end up holding him back is LSU's shaky passing attack as opposing SEC defenses will load up the box while waiting for Fournette.
     Just like last year, let's see how he fares once he enters the stomach of conference play.

3.) Quarterback J.T. Barrett (Ohio State)

Image result for jt barrett
Photo from Deadspin.
     It may be crazy to believe, but the Ohio State quarterback is only in his junior season with the Buckeyes.
     After leading Ohio State to an undefeated record before going down with an injury near the end of the 2014 season, Barrett saw Cardale Jones take the team to a national championship that season and subsequently ended up splitting the starting quarterback job with him in 2015.
     This is Barrett's year to shine and he sure has delievered so far. He has already thrown 10 touchdown passes compared to one interception, including four touchdown passes on the road in a big blowout victory over Oklahoma. In addition, Barrett has 159 yards rushing, three touchdowns on the ground and a 67.1 completion percentage (the highest of his career).
     If he continues to shine when it counts against Michigan, Michigan State and the rest of the Big Ten play, Barrett will be right there in contention for the Heisman.

2.) Running Back Christian McCaffery (Stanford)
Image result for christian mccaffrey
Photo from Sporting News.

     McCaffery was the runner-up for last year's Heisman and was also the 2015 AP College Player of the Year after accumulating over 2,000 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards and 1,000 yards from kickoff returns.
     It's actually pretty mind-blowing that he didn't win last year; although Henry did break the all-time SEC single season rushing record.
     So far in 2016, he's doing a damn good job trying to maintain that pace. In two games, McCaffery has almost 300 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns and over 100 receiving yards with a touchdown.
     It will be interesting to see if McCaffery gets anywhere close to last year's numbers because he might not see as much time on special teams, but he should be fine. And if it wasn't for a certain quarterback from Louisville, he might've been the Heisman favorite right now.

1.) Quarterback Lamar Jackson (Louisville)

Image result for lamar jackson
Photo from Fox Sports.
     This may well be Jackson's year.
     The sophomore quarterback already has 913 passing yards, 464 rushing yards and 18 combined touchdowns compared to two interceptions. All in three games!
     Especially impressive was his 362 total yard and five touchdown performance against the second ranked Florida State Seminoles.
     Will he be able to maintain this hot start, or he will he fade like previous September Heisman frontrunners like Geno Smith and Kenny Hill?

It's still early, but right now the Heisman is Jackson's to lose.

Let me know what you think by leaving or a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

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