The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious individual honor in college sports. Win one and you will be remembered forever. So, with the 2015 FBS season just days away, there’s no better time to look at a few guys that have the best chance to ultimately have their names etched in football history.
Here are the top five Heisman favorites heading into the season:
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
What’s there not to like about Boykin’s Heisman chances? The TCU signal-caller is fresh off a dominant 2014 season, in which he threw for 3,901 yards and 33 touchdowns while adding 707 yards on the ground and eight rushing touchdowns. He’s also returning to an offense that’s absolutely loaded – the Horned Frogs return every major playmaker from last season, including 1,018-yard receiver Josh Doctson. History also helps Boykin’s Heisman case. 13 of the previous 15 winners were quarterbacks. On top of that, being on one of the best teams in the nation is generally a prerequisite for winning the award; Boykin’s Horned Frogs will enter the season as the No. 2 ranked team and will have a great shot at reaching the College Football Playoff.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
It’s hard to remember a more impressive late-season surge from a running back than the one Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott put forth last season. In the Buckeyes’ final three games – the Big 10 Championship, Sugar Bowl and National Championship game – Elliott rushed for an absurd 696 yards and eight touchdowns. That stretch helped him finish the season with 1,878 yards rushing (6.9 yards per carry) and 18 rushing touchdowns. Elliott should be similarly dominant in 2015 and being on the consensus national championship favorite Buckeyes makes him a no-brainer selection for this list. However, what hurts his cause is the position he plays – again, quarterbacks rule all when it comes to the Heisman – and the strong possibility that he’s receiving handoffs from another contender for the award. Elliott won’t be able to garner the singular shine of being “The Man” on his team like Boykin will be able to.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Thanks to Nick Chubb, the Georgia rushing attack didn’t miss a beat despite 2014 starter Todd Gurley only playing in six games last year. The then-true freshman put up 143 yards rushing in his first start against Missouri on Oct. 11 and never looked back. He finished the season with 1,547 yards rushing (7.1 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns. He also saved his best performance of the season for last, posting 266 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the Belk Bowl against Louisville, making his prospects for the 2015 season seem even brighter. With a full season as the Bulldogs’ lead back ahead, the sky's the limit for Chubb. It should be exciting to follow all year long who among he and Elliott can establish themselves as the best running back in the nation.
J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
The Ohio State quarterback situation remains unsolved, as Urban Meyer has yet to name a starter. However, whoever Meyer anoints as his guy becomes an immediate Heisman contender. Both Barrett and Jones proved last season that they are among the best quarterbacks in football right now. Starting 12 games in 2014, Barrett led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record and threw for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also rushed for a whopping 938 yards and 11 scores on the ground. Barrett’s season ended early when he broke an ankle against Michigan in the regular-season finale. Then, Jones entered the picture and all he did was finish off the Wolverines and lead the Buckeyes to victories in the Big 10 Championship, Sugar Bowl and National Championship game. Jones finished the season with 863 yards passing and seven touchdowns passing. If either of these guys starts the whole season for the Buckeyes and leads team to an undefeated regular season while playing at the level they are capable of, they’ll have a great shot at the hardware.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Watson dealt with injuries for much of his freshman season and will enter this year having recently recovered from a torn ACL. But Watson was outstanding when he played in 2014, making him a legitimate Heisman threat. He threw for 1,466 yards, 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions while adding 200 yards rushing and five scores on the ground in eight appearances. Watson is a true duel-threat and someone that can fill the stat-sheet any given Saturday. Although Watson’s not on a preseason top-10 team like every other name on this list, there’s still a chance that he can have the level of team success necessary to win the Heisman. The ACC should be more up for grabs this year than seasons past with Florida State having lost quarterback Jameis Winston to the NFL. If Clemson can be the team to snatch the crown from the Seminoles and make a College Football Playoff appearance, Watson very easily could head to New York for the Heisman ceremony.