After a season full of impressive performances, we finally have the list of Heisman Trophy finalists that are headed to New York. They are:
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Jackson looked like he was running away with the award in the middle of the season, but the field has since narrowed the gap. Regardless, it’s not surprising to see that Jackson’s been named a finalist.
It’s been a record-setting year for the Louisville sophomore. Jackson has thrown for 3,390 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2016, but he’s been most impressive on the ground. The best dual threat in the nation rushed for an astounding 1,538 yards and 21 scores on the year; he’s topped the 100-yard threshold eight times. Jackson burst onto the scene by posting more than 600 yards of total offense in Week 2 against Syracuse, and he’s turned in gem after gem ever since.
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson was a popular pick to win the Heisman in the preseason, and he’s the best player on the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff. His case is obvious.
With that said, while Watson has been excellent statistically, his numbers aren’t quite as good as they were in 2015. Regardless, he’s passed for almost 4,000 yards and 37 scores, and the Tigers have all of one loss.
The Tiger QB isn’t running as much as he did last season, and that could wind up hurting his candidacy. He hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards in a game this season, though his speed and smarts are still evident – Watson ran for 85 yards and two scores in the ACC title game. One of the biggest stars in the game on and off the field, Watson would certainly be deserving of the award.
QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Mayfield wasn’t selected as a Heisman finalist last season, and he came back with something to prove in 2016. He’s been magnificent all season long, and the Sooner QB is headed to New York because of it.
Mayfield’s per-pass numbers are absurd. The junior is averaging 11.12 yards per attempt on the season, and he owns a sparkling touchdown:interception ratio of 38:8. Mayfield has been particularly strong in the second half of the season; in the past seven weeks, he’s racked up 26 passing touchdowns. That’s a good season for most signal callers. It’s only a sliver of Mayfield’s fantastic campaign.
WR Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
Starting with a 158-yard performance on Oct. 1 against TCU, Westbrook was unstoppable for the better part of 2016. His numbers on the season: 74 receptions, 1,456 yards and 16 touchdowns. The senior wideout almost averaged 20 yards per reception; there was no deep threat like Westbrook this year in college football.
Westbrook is the only wide receiver that will have a chance to win the Heisman, and that shows how great of an impact he made from his position. The last wide receiver to win the award was Desmond Howard in 1991.
LB/DB Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Peppers being named a finalist is something of a surprise, but perhaps no player in America impacted the game in as many ways as the stud Michigan defender did this season.
Name a position, and Peppers probably played it. And excelled in doing so. He was all over the field as a linebacker and a defensive back, but also made waves as a running back and Wildcat quarterback. Jim Harbaugh wasn’t afraid to use Peppers in goal line situations on offense, and he delivered: No. 5 in maize and blue ran for 167 yards and three scores on the year. He also returned a punt for a touchdown and was excellent in the return game as a whole.