With under 100 days to go until the start of the 2016 college football season, it’s surely time to suggest which players could win the Heisman this year, right?
2015 winner Derrick Henry has gone to the NFL but the other two finalists from last season, Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey, are both still around and are primed for big seasons.
Henry broke a run of five straight quarterback winners and Clemson signal caller Watson, as well as Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield who finished fourth in the voting in 2015, will be looking to reclaim the award for the quarterback fraternity.
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2015 was just about the craziest season in memory with countless games ending with wild final plays on blocked punts, missed field goals and ludicrous numbers of laterals ending in touchdowns, making the excitement for the coming season even greater than usual.
Without further ado, here are the likely top contenders for college football’s most outstanding player in 2016:
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Watson enters his junior season off a stellar 2015 campaign that saw him lead Clemson to an unbeaten regular season and a national championship game.
The Tigers lost to Alabama in that game but Watson ran the Tide close. His outstanding season was rewarded with the Davey O’Brien award for the top quarterback in college football and a third place finish in the Heisman Trophy race.
Watson passed for over 4,000 yards and ran for over 1,000 more in 2015, and established himself as the premier passer in college football going forward.
His accuracy and ability to throw on the move, added to his ability to hurt teams with his legs, make him a truly dangerous opponent, and he will rightly enter the season as the favourite for the award.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Stanford running back announced himself as a bona fide star in 2015, compiling the most yards from scrimmage in the country with 2,019 rushing yards and 645 receiving which led to 13 touchdowns.
McCaffrey even completed two touchdown passes and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a truly remarkable season that saw him finish a close second to Henry in the Heisman voting.
Many people believe he should’ve won the award last season and the junior will come out all guns blazing in 2016 as he looks to add to his already glowing reputation, and enhance his draft stock ahead of what is a promising future in the NFL.
McCaffrey has startling change of direction ability and his elusiveness as a runner is his greatest strength which allows him to be a threat in every facet of offense.
Anything close to a repeat of last season’s heroics where he broke the NCAA record for all-purpose yards and Stanford could have it’s first Heisman winner since Jim Plunkett in 1970.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield was a revelation for the Sooners in 2015 as a walk-on transfer and took his team to the semi finals of the College Football Playoff.
The Senior passed for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns whilst tossing only seven picks all year, a stellar campaign that earned him fourth spot in the Heisman voting and a place in the All-American second team as voted for by the Associated Press.
Mayfield is an enigmatic leader who inspires confidence in his team with his passion and eye-catching play making ability.
His accuracy and ability to escape pressure and make plays with his legs allows him to make big plays in situations where most of his peers simply cannot. With a strong team around him, the Oklahoma quarterback should have another excellent season in 2016.
Others that will be in and around the top three candidates include LSU running back Leonard Fournette who was on historic pace in terms of yards last season before a late run of lean games slowed his chances of winning the award.
Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett will also harbour hopes of becoming Heisman winners after flashes of brilliance from each player in 2015.