There might not be a more prestigious award in all of sports than college football’s Heisman Trophy.
MVP in the NBA, MLB or NFL might be more notable, perhaps especially the Ballon d’Or winner, but the Heisman Trophy has a certain allure to it.
It seems like it is never too early to talk about who might win the Heisman — the conversation began in earnest in the preseason — and competition for the award looks to be fierce this season.
Heisman Trophy contenders
It is early, but there are already a few players who have separated themselves from the rest, both because of their play during Week 1, but also because of reputation earned in previous seasons.
QB — Ohio State (1-0).
Most recent performance: vs. Notre Dame on Sep. 3.
Stroud was somewhere between solid and spectacular in the Buckeye’s season-opening 21-10 win over Notre Dame. The preseason Heisman favorite threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns, completing 24 of 34 pass attempts, a completion percentage of 71%.
Stroud is — by-and-large — considered the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season. The junior quarterback has all the makings of a Heisman winner. He plays for one of the most notable programs in the country and should rack up both wins and elite numbers throughout the season.
QB — Alabama (1-0).
Most recent performance: vs. Utah State on Sep. 3.
Young was simply spectacular in Alabama’s 55-0 season-opening win over Utah State. Despite not playing the entire game, Young accounted for six Alabama touchdowns, five through the air and another on the ground. He finished with 195 yards passing, completing 64% of his attempts, and a team-high 100 yards rushing.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Young picked up where he left off in 2021. He was simply dynamic, albeit fairly untested, and toyed with the Aggies more often than not. There hasn’t been a multi-time Heisman Trophy winner since Ohio State running back Archie Griffin in 1974 and again in 1975. Young might be the one to make history though.
QB — USC (1-0).
Most recent performance: vs. Rice on Sep. 3.
Williams’ debut with the Trojans couldn’t have gone much better. He threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns — competed 19 of 22 pass attempts — in USC’s 66-14 victory. Williams also showcased dual-threat ability, rushing for 68 yards on six carries.
As the quarterback at USC, with Lincoln Riley has his head coach, Williams will be one the most talked-about players in the county this season, especially if USC is able to win and win often. Williams might be the most talented quarterback in the country and if he leads the Trojans to a resurgent season, the Heisman might be his for the taking.
Heisman Trophy hopefuls
This early in the season there are plenty of players who could still figure into the Heisman Trophy race. A big win here, a couple strong weeks there and anyone could be right in the mix. These are the players closest to become a legitimate Hesiman contender.
QB — Florida (1-0).
Most recent performance: vs. Utah on Sep. 3.
Richardson burst onto the Heisman scene with his breakout performance against the Utes’ in Florida’s season opening win. Richardson completed 17 of 24 passes for 168 and rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns.
Richardson’s flashed his potential during the 2021 college football season but now, as Florida’s undisputed starting quarterback, it appears he might be worthy of the hype. Richardson was nearly unstoppable against Utah and made multiple game-winning plays in the fourth quarter to lead Florida to the upset victory. “Heisman moments” are often discussed during the season and Richardson may have already had his.
Will Anderson Jr.
LB — Alabama (1-0).
Most recent performance: vs. Utah State on Sep. 3.
Anderson was solid, if not dominant in Alabama’s season-opening win over Utah State. Anderson finished with five total tackles against the Aggies as one of the leaders on an extremely well-balanced Alabama defense.
Quite possibly the best overall player in college football, Anderson is healthy and primed for a breakout year, even after recording 101 tackles and 17.5 sacks a season ago. Can Anderson win the Heisman as a defensive player? History suggests it will be a very tall task but there is no disputing Anderson’s talent.
QB — Oklahoma (1-0).
Most recent performance: vs. UTEP on Sep. 3.
Gabriel didn’t have to do all that much in his debut with the Sooners, who defeated UTEP 45-13, but nonetheless threw for 233 yard and two touchdowns, completing 65% of his pass attempts. Gabriel also rushed for a touchdown and showed an impressive level of comfort in his new surroundings.
Gabriel was a prolific passer at UCF and now, having reunited with his former offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, appears primed for an impressive statistical season. Gabriel’s Heisman candidacy largely rests on how well Oklahoma performs on the whole. Win the Big 12 in impressive fashion and Gabriel will have a shot.
QB — Georgia (1-0).
Most recent performance: vs. Oregon on Sep. 3.
Bennett, a former walk-on, has only gotten better and better in his time at Georgia and his performance against the Ducks might have been his best yet. Bennett threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia’s dominant win, completing 81% of his passes. He also added a rushing touchdown.
Bennett doesn’t have the “name” that other Heisman hopefuls have, but as the starting quarterback for the reigning national champions, he will be seen time and again this season. Lead Georgia to another sterling season and there is every reason to believe that Bennett could find himself in New York City at the end of the year.
Heisman Trophy long shots
There are plenty of players who can still rise in the race but currently are considered long shots to win the Heisman, let alone make it to the trophy presentation in New York City. Two quarterbacks who play in Utah fall in that group as well a former Utah high school star QB. Ultimately the long shots include some 20 or more players currently — all of whom share similar odds, if not exactly the same — though the list will get winnowed down as the season progresses.
QB — Clemson (1-0).
Tyler Van Dyke
QB — Miami 1-0).
RB — Texas (1-0).
RB — Wisconsin (1-0).
QB – Texas (1-0).
QB — Ole Miss (1-0).
QB — Utah (0-1).
QB — BYU (1-0).
QB — Arkansas.
RB – Alabama (1-0).
QB — Michigan (1-0).
QB — Tennessee (1-0).
QB — Oklahoma State (1-0).