7 Heisman Hopefuls Heading Into the 2018 CFB Season By: Peter Snyder

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Believe it or not, we are vastly approaching the 2018 CFB season and it is about that time where we start to praise and hype college football players across the country. The term “Heisman Hopeful” gets thrown around left and right and at times, it feels like everybody has their 2 cents on the topic. That being said, when talking about Heisman hopefuls, most experts and even fans, will refer to odds that are given to the athlete in relation to them winning the Heisman trophy. That is where this article is going to separate itself from the norm. Instead of referring to odds, I will instead be featuring 7 athletes and based on their stats from last year and their potential, I will give them a rating from 5 to 10. If the athlete is given a five, it means that they have potential, but will need to take their game to another level if they want to win the Heisman. If the athlete is given a 10, it means that I am absolutely infatuated with the player and think that they are essentially a favorite to take home some form of  hardware come seasons end. We will start with an athlete in the Big Ten who to some may be considered a sleeper, but come seasons end, will have the whole nation on notice.

7. J.K. Dobbins – RB: Ohio State

Rating: 7

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J.K. Dobbins is a star in the making. The sophomore running back from Texas is coming off one of the best freshman seasons in Buckeye history, yet, is just getting started. Dobbins had a phenomenal freshman year for the Buckeyes, setting an Ohio State record for the most rushing yards as a freshman, rushing for a staggering, 1,538 yards. Dobbins also averaged 7.1 yards a carry in 2017 and was a threat to break it open for a huge gain on every single snap. The thing that makes Dobbins so special is his versatility. Dobbins is one of if not the most versatile back in the entire nation and will adapt to every single situation you throw at him. The question now becomes, why am I giving Dobbins a 7. Well the answer is quite easy. Last year during Dobbins freshman year, the Ohio State Buckeyes were one of the most pass heavy offenses in the entire nation. A main reason for this was because they had superstar J.T Barrett leading the charge under center. Barrett loved to throw the ball and Buckeye offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson was a very pass heavy coach. This year however, Barrett is no longer with the Buckeyes and Dobbins is now arguably to be considered as the best player on this Ohio State team. Because of Barrett’s absence and Dobbins raw talent, Dobbins can be assured to see the ball more in 2018 and rack up much more yards along with scoring a surplus more of TD’s. For all these reasons, you must put this cool cat J.K. Dobbins on your Heisman list to start the season and I promise you, he will not disappoint.

6. Trace McSorley – QB: Penn State

Rating: 6

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Besides having the best celebration in the game, Trace McSorley can absolutely ball. The 6 foot Senior QB is one of the most confident quarterbacks you will ever find and is one who is not afraid to face the biggest of moments head on. McSorley has what I like to call the “It” factor. To have the it factor one has to have the ability to compete at great heights and be absolutely fearless. McSorley shares all those traits and then some. McSorley is coming off a tremendous Junior season in which he finished the year with 3570 passing yards to go along with 28 throwing TD’s. McSorely looks to improve his stats during his final year as a collegiate athlete and it is safe to say that he has the tools to do it. Penn State sends a loaded WR core into the 2018 season, a core that is led by a five star recruit from Jersey, Justin Shorter. So if the praise is so high for McSorley is so high, why is his rating only at a 6? Well there are a few reasons. For starters, this years QB class is loaded. Although CFB had to say goodbye to some tremendous QBs in 2017 such as Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, they will be greeted with plenty of familiar faces in 2018 such as Kelly Brant and Jake Fromm. With such a star studded QB class, it can become very easy to hide in the shadows and become unnoticed to the Heisman voters. Another reason why I gave McSorley only a 6, was because I feel that for some reason, the Heisman selection committee has a negative bias towards the Nittany Lions. I say that because last year, former Penn State RB Saquon Barkley had one of the best seasons any collegiate RB has ever had, and did not even get invited to New York. For those reasons included, I think McSorley will have a tremendous year, I think he will light up plenty of scoreboards along with leading his team to victory many times throughout the season, but feel like he will have a hard time winning this year’s Heisman trophy.

5. Khalil Tate – QB: Arizona

Rating: 8

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I firmly believe that Khalil Tate is a more athletic version of Lamar Jackson. The duel-threat QB is coming off of a tremendous Sophomore season and is looking to carry his momentum into his Junior year. What I love most about Tate is just how athletic he is. The 6 foot 2 phenom from California has a quickness to him that can only be admired over. Tate is never truly in trouble when he is in the pocket because he has the ability to bounce out and scramble, turning a negative into a positive in a blink of an eye. Tate put the nation on notice after he had a breakout sophomore season, establishing himself as one of the elite duel-threat quarterbacks in all of college football. Tate finished the 2017 season throwing for 1500 yards, tossing for 14 TD passes, along with rushing for 1400 yards and rushing for 12 TD on the year. The scary thing is that this dude is only going to get better and will have more impressive numbers come seasons end in 2018. The reason I am giving him an 8 rather than a 10, is because although Tate is one of the most talented QBs in the country, he is on a team that is not all that and a bag of chips. Arizona is okay, but they are no Alabama. The Wildcats finished the 2017 season with a 7-6 record that concluded in a 38-35 loss to Purdue in the Fosters Farm Bowl. What usually is the case with a Heisman winner, is that the team he is on is a powerhouse, and a team that has a very successful regular season. For Tate to win the Heisman in 2018 he is going to have to lead his Wildcats to at least a 10 win season and possibly a Pac 12 championship. Is it likely to happen? No. But if anybody is going to do it, it is going to be the man with a rocket arm and quick legs who makes the seemingly impossible look like a simple routine.

4. Bryce Love – RB: Stanford

Rating: 9

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Let’s be honest, Bryce Love should have won the Heisman award in 2017. Although he finished second in the voting to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, many believed that Love was deserving of the award and was the most outstanding player during the 2017 season. Bryce Love is the type of player that you build in a video game and stack their stats to the maximum capacity. Love has no weakness. He is fast, streaky and can run up the field better than anybody in the country. The Senior back from North Carolina is coming off one of the best seasons a running back from Stanford has ever had. Love finished his 2017 season with 2100 rushing yards to go along with a mind-blowing statistic, of 19 rushing TD. The thing that makes this statistic so impressive is that coming into his Junior year, Love had only accounted for 5 rushing TD’s and was a seemingly an average player.” Fast-forward one calendar year and we are looking at a superstar in the making who is going to play on Sunday’s in the very near future. I expect Love to have a monster season and if I am going to be frank, this would be my Heisman favorite going into the season. The only problem I could possibly see with Love’s production in 2018, is that he is somewhat injury prone and might have a hard time to play a complete season. However, if he can in fact stay healthy, I firmly believe that you are looking at your 2018 Heisman winner.

3. McKenzie Milton – QB: UCF

Rating: 5

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If you thought I was going to write this whole Heisman piece without including at least one sleeper…. well than you just do not know me well at all. The official sleeper coming into this year’s Heisman watch is sir McKenzie Milton, a Junior QB from the beautiful state of Hawaii. Milton is coming off of a magical Sophomore season; one in which Milton led his team to a perfect 13-0 season that was capped off with a 34-27 win against Auburn in the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl. Milton is the type of QB that will light up a freaking scoreboard and let the deep ball fly more than not. Milton finished his Sophomore year with 4037 passing yards to go along with 37 passing TDs. Milton’s confidence can be expressed through the field in more ways than one. Milton throws a pretty ball, along with having the ability to scramble out of the pocket when he is in trouble. So the question becomes, why does Milton have the lowest rating on this list? Well for one he is a sleeper for a reason. Milton although heavily talented, is not on many experts Heisman list coming into the 2018 season.  A reason for this is because one, he is not playing for a big market school. Although UCF had a tremendous season last year, they are still out of the power 5 conferences and are considered as a high mid major. Another reason may be because Milton will be without his former head coach, Scott Frost for the first time in his collegiate career. Frost of course, is returning home and is now the head coach of Big Ten powerhouse, Nebraska. Frost and Milton always had a special relationship and a bond between a QB and his coach, is a bond that is hard to make and even harder to break. UCF will now look to new head coach, Josh Heupel to fill in the major hole that Frost left with his absence, a feat that is seemingly almost impossible to accomplish. That being said, if anyone knows how to face adversity and kick it in its ass, it is this man Mckenzie Milton, who you MUST watch shine through the 2018 CFB season.

2. Drew Lock – QB: Missouri

Rating: 7

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Let me introduce you to the best college QB you have never heard of. Drew Lock is an absolute machine. Lock is coming into his senior season and perhaps had the most impressive season of any QB in the country in 2017. Lock finished his 2017 campaign with 3900 passing yards to go along with 44, yes I said 44 passing TDs. Lock was born with a rare condition where he was birthed with a rocket instead of an actually arm. The rocket has helped him throughout his life however, as he could always throw farther than anybody, no matter how old they are. Lock can absolutely rip it. He also has an incredible football IQ and can read a field like it is a book. Is it realistic to think that Lock can follow his 44 TD season with even better stats? I think the answer to that question is absolutely, yes. Lock is in the SEC East, which is known to be scattered with weak secondaries. Lock is going to have a field day exploring those secondaries and padding his stats in the process. That being said, it is unrealistic in some eyes to think that Lock can win the Heisman this year, because Missouri is just not that good of a football team. Although they went 7-6 last season, they are coming off of an ugly bowl loss and lost many players on the defensive side due to eligibility. Lock is a special QB, he is good enough to play in the NFL and have a successful career. I just wish that he was on a team that would put him in a more national spotlight to showcase just how great and talented this kid really is.

1. Jake Fromm – QB: Georgia

Rating: 9

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Oh baby, coming in as the final athlete on this list is perhaps my favorite player in all of CFB. Jake Fromm is as cool as the other side of the pillow. As a true Freshman, Fromm lead his Bulldogs team to a 13-2 season, and was one possession away from winning a National Championship. Fromm had one of the most impressive true freshman seasons I have ever seen, finishing the year with 2,600 passing yards to go along with 24 passing TDs. The thing that I love so much about Fromm, is just how cool, calm and collected this dude is. To be a true Freshman at the QB position, in the SEC never the less, is an incredibly hard mountain to climb. To climb that mountain with near ease, is damn near jaw dropping. I watched almost every game Fromm played in this year and to be honest, I saw him flustered maybe once. That one game was @ Auburn on November 11th, 2017. The game was hyped up as Georgia came into Auburn as the number one team as the nation, and were the team to beat not only in the SEC, but the entire country. It is safe to say that the target on their back was hit spot on, as they got embarrassed by the score of 40-17. Auburn’s defense did an incredible job of bringing pressure into the pocket and was in Fromm’s face the entire afternoon. You could see that the pressure got to the young QB. He missed passes that he had made all season and looked rattled the entire day. Fromm bounced back nicely however, as he led his team to 4 ginormous victories in a row, including the SEC championship against Auburn and a national semi final victory at the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma. The ability that Fromm showed to bounce back from adversity and to turn a loss around so fast at such a young age, is absolutely commendable. Being that Fromm is so young, I think that he is only getting started. I feel that he will have more opportunities to pass this season due to the loss of Georgia’s two star running backs, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who are now both on NFL teams. I also think that the recruiting that Kirby Smart has done is nothing short of tremendous, especially at the WR position, which is absolutely loaded. All and all, you should expect Fromm to have an enormous Sophomore season and should also look at the real possibility of both Fromm winning the Heisman and this Bulldog team to win the 2018 National Championship.

 

There you guys have it! You now know of 7 incredible college athletes to put on your Heisman list coming into the 2018 season. If there was anybody I missed or anybody you do not agree with, please leave a comment in the comment section below or hit me up on twitter @Petersnyder23. Thank you all for reading, God Bless.

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