It is incredibly early, but it is always fun to speculate on the Heisman frontrunners. While this list is bound to ebb and flow, here’s our top ten as of now.
Notably absent from the list are Week 1 losers QB Josh Rosen (UCLA), QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), and RB Leonard Fournette (LSU). Those players would have appeared on any preseason list and could be back on this one soon. However, early losses place them on the outside looking in at the moment. Other players to watch include QB Trevor Knight (Texas A&M) who came up big for the Aggies, RB Mike Weber (Ohio State) who could carry the load for the Buckeyes as the season goes on, QB Seth Russell (Baylor) who is bound to put up bigger numbers, and a number of players at Alabama including Jalen Hurts, Blake Barnett, Damien Harris, and Bo Scarborough who will battle for touches as the season progresses.
10. RB Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)—261 yards of total offense with 3 touchdowns in Week 1 make Samuel a surprise addition to this list. While an impact performer in his first two years, the Buckeye’s number of touches jumped dramatically and that will be worth watching to see if he will be truly featured in the offense.
9. RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State)—Cook was a trendy Heisman pick going into the season, but he will battle Francois for attention. He gained 192 total yards against Ole Miss but garnered no touchdowns while his teammate stole the show.
8. QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)—How good will Louisville be? While it is doubtful that Jackson will consistently put up numbers like he did in Week 1 (over 400 total yards and 8 touchdowns), the sophomore will be well positioned if his team can be a contender. Florida State, Clemson, and Houston all make appearances on the schedule which is both an opportunity and a pitfall.
7. QB Kenny Hill (TCU)—I am more conflicted about Hill than any other player on this list. The Horned Frog quarterback put up massive numbers and accumulated 5 touchdowns. Still his team struggled against South Dakota State, and he threw two costly picks. The signal caller formerly known as “Kenny Trill” is a big wildcard on this list.
6. QB Greg Ward (Houston)—Ward put up yards through the air but was not overly accurate, and he really struggled on the ground against Oklahoma. However, he now has a signature win to his resume and is bound to put up even bigger numbers as the season progresses.
5. RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)—College football’s most electric playmaker may be too low on this list, but he will be hurt by lack of major games as well as the timing of those contests. Matchups against USC, UCLA, and Notre Dame all lost a bit of their luster after Week 1.
4. QB Deondre Francois (Florida State)—The young Seminole QB sent his stock skyrocketing with a monster comeback performance against Ole Miss. He will battle Dalvin Cook for attention throughout the season, but I firmly believe he will be a fixture on this list.
3. RB Nick Chubb (Georgia)—If Chubb can stay healthy, he should remain on this list through the end of the year. His 222 yards in Game 1 was impressive. Watch how the elite runner does on September 24 at Ole Miss in what may be the biggest stage for the Dawgs this season.
2. QB JT Barrett (Ohio State)—The Buckeye signal caller accounted for seven touchdowns in the first game, and he was in the conversation just two seasons ago. Ohio State will likely perform well enough to keep its players on the Heisman Watch List, but Samuel and Weber may pull attention from the star QB.
1. QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)—It was not Watson’s greatest statistical output, but he came into the season as the Heisman frontrunner and did nothing to change that perception. His team and ability to put up big individual numbers make him a near lock to earn an invitation to New York.