Heisman Watch: Postseason

Story posted December 27, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Rocco

The college football season is coming to a close and the Heisman Trophy finalists have just been announced. Last year, we saw LSU quarterback Joe Burrow win in a landslide.

However, this year’s race seems to be very close with no clear front runner. The finalists include three top quarterbacks, along with the nation’s most explosive playmaker.

Let’s take a deeper dive into each finalist.

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Lawrence is one of the most hyped-up college football prospects since Peyton Manning. Lawrence’s ability was on display last Saturday against Notre Dame, throwing for 332 yards and two touchdowns, as well as rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Lawrence became the first starting quarterback to win three ACC Championship Games. He also is one of the winningest quarterbacks in FBS play, carrying a 34-1 record into his third-straight College Football Playoff appearance.

Lawrence missed two games after testing positive for COVID-19, however still managed to throw for 2,753 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. Lawrence would also add 211 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Lawrence is projected to be the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft in April. If Lawrence wins the Heisman, it would be the first in Clemson history.

Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

Coming into the season, many fans were skeptical about how Trask was going to play and he has proven all of his doubters wrong. Trask has been arguably the most dominant player in all of college football.

The redshirt senior leads the FBS in total touchdowns with 46. Trask has thrown for 4,125 yards and 43 touchdowns.

With his three passing touchdowns against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Trask became just the ninth player in FBS history to throw at least 43 touchdowns through the first 11 games of a season. Trask is the only SEC quarterback to log five 400-yard passing games in a season and his total touchdown count is second only in Florida history to Tim Tebow's 55 touchdowns from his Heisman-winning season in 2007.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones has had one of the toughest jobs in all of college football, as he had to replace Tua Tagovailoa, who was drafted fifth overall by the Miami Dolphins in last year’s NFL Draft.

However, Alabama head coach Nick Saban changed around the offense to put Jones in the best scenario to succeed and it has worked. Jones' season has put him in the school record books.

There have only been 10 passing performances of 400+ yards in Crimson Tide history, and Jones has four of them this year. He is also on pace to have the highest completion percentage of 76.5 by an Alabama QB in school history.

Jones is second in the nation with 3,739 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. Jones has also stepped up in the biggest moments, as he has thrown 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions against ranked opponents.

Jones would become just the third Alabama player and the first QB to win the award.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The odds are in Smith’s favor, as the last time a non-quarterback won the Heisman was fellow Crimson Tide Derrick Henry in 2015, and the last time a receiver won the Heisman was Desmond Howard in 1991.

This has been an all-time great season by the Alabama receiver. One of the reasons why Mac Jones has been so good has been the play of Smith.

Smith is the nation's leader in receptions with 98, receiving yards with 1,511, and yards after the catch 768. He also ranks second in receiving touchdowns with 17 and receiving yards per game averaging 137.

The Crimson Tide suffered a major blow early in the season when fellow star receiver Jaylen Waddle broke his ankle and they needed Smith to step up and he did as 13 of his 17 touchdowns came after the injury.

If Alabama wants to bring a national championship back to Tuscaloosa Smith will need to keep doing what he has been doing all season long.

The rest of the top 10 looks like this:

1. TBA
2. TBA
3. TBA
4. TBA
5. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
6. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
7. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
8. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
9. Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
10. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The winner of the Heisman Trophy will get announced on Jan. 5.

Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at afr5646@psu.edu.