2017 Heisman Watch: Week 1

Story posted August 31, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Hunter Pitcoff

As crazy as it seems, college football is finally back this week and the Heisman Trophy is up for grabs.  This season is going to be an exciting one, as there are many talented players that have a legitimate shot at winning the award.  That being said, having a deep pool of talent means that many of these athletes performances will be going under the radar, so the key for winning the Heisman this year is going to come down to both team success and consistency.  The other crucial component to winning the Heisman award will include the players who are able to have the historic “Heisman moment” to add to their resume.

 5) Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

It would be a disgrace to leave off the reigning winner of the Heisman last year, as he proved to be one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college football history.  Many doubters would say that his spectacular season last year was just a fluke and that he will fail to reach the stats that he was able to put up during his sophomore season.  Yes, it is true that the teams Louisville will be facing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (better known as the ACC) this season will have done their homework and have a better gameplan to stop him, but Lamar Jackson has shown flashes of greatness and makes the game of football look as easy as tying your shoes. 

4) Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

This one may surprise some people, as Mason Rudolph isn’t receiving the name recognition some of the other top college athletes are getting. However, Rudolph is poised and ready to lead Oklahoma State to its first ever College Football Playoff.  There are people who believe that the Big-12 Conference gets the bad end of the stick in terms of being represented well by the College Football Playoff Committee, but Oklahoma State may force the committee to finally put them in.  The success of the Oklahoma State Cowboys will all depend on the arm of Rudolph.  The Cowboys’ finished last year strongly by winning 9 out of their last 10 games, including an impressive 38-8 win against Colorado in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Rudolph capped off his 2016 campaign with a staggering 4,091 passing yards, 34 total touchdowns, and an impressive 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (sports-reference.com).  Entering his senior year, Rudolph will not take a single game for granted and he will make sure that he does everything he can possibly do to ensure that his team ends up on top.  He is already regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects for the NFL Draft, and he will have the weapons around him to elevate his game to newer heights.  Be on the lookout for Rudolph and the Cowboys this upcoming season.

3) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Happy Valley is thrilled to see what the Nittany Lions can do after having a non-expected, successful 2016 season.  As good as quarterback Trace McSorley is, this team will only go as far as Saquon Barkley will take them.  The offense starts and finishes with Barkley, as he possesses both the speed and agility to avoid & blow past defenders, as well as the strength and motor to run over anyone in his path.  Barkley is being regarded as the best running back in the nation, and that is respectfully so.  After coming off an impressive season last year, Barkley is looking to claim the Heisman trophy for not only himself, but for the rest of Happy Valley.

2) Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

If you were to look up the word ‘efficiency’ in the dictionary, the definition would be Baker Mayfield’s stat line.  All jokes aside, Baker Mayfield has been in the conversation for the Heisman over the last couple of years after being a walk-on at Texas Tech to eventually becoming the starting quarterback on one of the most dynamic offenses in the country.  If actions speak louder than words, than it is evident that Mayfield loves the college football atmosphere after deciding to return for his senior season to give one last “Hoorah!” and lead the Oklahoma Sooners to the National Championship, as well as finally winning the Heisman Trophy.

Baker Mayfield has been arguably the most consistent player in college over the last two years, as he has amassed 7,665 passing yards and 89 total touchdowns during his time with Oklahoma.  Those numbers earn him a round of applause, as he has displayed time and time again that no defense is good enough to slow him down.  Although it can be argued that Mayfield has been very fortunate to have NFL-caliber players around him to boast his stats, he has proven that he can work with a wide-range of talent and elevate the game of his teammates.  Oklahoma has been waiting quite some time to win the national championship, and a potential Heisman-winning Baker Mayfield may be just enough to accomplish the goal.

1) Sam Darnold, QB, USC

It appears that Sam Darnold is the most amazing thing since sliced bread.  He has been the topic of conversation ever since he became the starting quarterback for the USC Trojans during his redshirt-freshman year.  He is beginning to be labeled as one of the best quarterback prospects to enter the NFL Draft in recent memory.  And to be honest, the tape speaks for itself, as Darnold possesses the arm talent, physical attributes, football IQ, and leadership abilities to be the face of a franchise.  With all this high praise about the potential that Darnold carries, let’s not forget that there is a season of college football that needs to be played.  USC is looking to regain its prowess as being the premiere college football team in the country.  They have their face of the team in Darnold, as well as other talented players necessary to win the national championship.  However, it is truly up to Sam Darnold to lead the Trojans to the promise land and confirm to everyone that he is a phenomenal player.  

Sam Darnold is looking to build off his 2016 season which included a come-from-behind victory in the Rose Bowl against Penn State which completed a 9 game winning streak to conclude the season.  During his first year of eligibility, Sam Darnold put up 3,086 passing yards, 31 passing touchdowns, and a remarkable pass completion percentage of 67.2.  Albeit impressive for a freshman, Sam Darnold is ready to destroy those numbers and lead USC to its first national championship victory since the days of Matt Leinart and Pete Carroll.  Darnold will be in the national spotlight all season, so he will have the opportunities to showcase his skillset for the entire country to see and have that “Heisman moment” that leaves us in awe.


Hunter Pitcoff is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism.  To contact him, email hxp80@psu.edu.