7 Heisman Hopefuls Heading into the 2019 CFB Season By: Peter Snyder

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The Heisman Trophy. An award dating back to 1967 that is as historic as the Grand Canyon. To win the Heisman Trophy, one must possess characteristics such as honor, integrity, leadership, and bravery. And oh yea, they gotta ball out all season long. Because this award isn’t just handed out to just anybody. To join the club of Heisman winners, you gotta be a freaking baller and anything less will get you left in the dust. With that being said, I wanted to break down seven Heisman hopefuls heading into the upcoming season. These seven athletes have the potential to do something special this fall as well as have the opportunity to bring home hardware come season’s end. Now I must warn you, most of the players featured on this list are quarterbacks, this being for a few reasons. For starters, I have a quarterback bias as I feel that the college QB is one of the sexiest positions in all of sport and two, 10 of the last 12 Heisman winners have come from the QB position, so more likely than not, we will another this December. With that out of the way, we kick off our list with a guy you may have never heard of but trust me, you damn well are about to.

7. Jordan Love – QB (Utah State)

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We start things off with my official dark horse pick for this year’s Heisman race, Jordan Love. Love, a 6’4 QB from Bakersfield, California, is a superstar in the making. I first fell in love with Love (lol) last August, when Love led his Utah State Aggies into East Lansing, to face powerhouse Michigan State on the road. Now, it was the first game of the season and Michigan State was given a preseason national ranking, so I was expecting the usual “cupcake butt-whooping” put on by power 5 programs. However, Love stepped onto the field like he was the best player on the gridiron. And for all intents and purposes, he may very well have been. Every pass Love made was on the money and was as crisp as a new one-dollar bill. As the fourth quarter rolled around, Love had nearly 300 passing yards to his name and had his Aggie team on the verge of a historic upset. Utah State ended up losing the game by 7, but it didn’t matter. I had already seen enough to know that Love was a star in the making. As the weeks began to progress in the season, Love began to grow stronger, both as a teammate and as an individual. His arm was a thing that you only see in made up comics and his confidence is what you only see in NFL vets. By season’s end, Love had thrown for over 3500 yards, had thrown just 6 interceptions, and finished 10th in the nation in TD passes with 32.

The scary thing about all of this is that I think Love is only going to get better during this upcoming season. I feel that he is talented enough to lead the nation in TD passes, win the Mountain West Conference POY by a landslide and be sitting in Times Square on December 8th. If you have not heard of Jordan Love before, I advise you to do some homework, because this Cali boy is about to become the talk of the nation as soon as the leaves turn different colors.

6. Adrian Martinez – QB (Nebraska)

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It goes without saying that the Scott Frost era has begun on an awful note. Last season, in what was Frost’s first year at the helm, the Cornhuskers had an abysmal 4-8 season in which they finished conference play at just 3-6. With this being said, one positive note that could have been taken away from the 2018 Cornhuskers season was that they got tremendous production from their QB, Adrian Martinez. Martinez, a 6’2 righty from Fresno, is the type of QB that one creates in a video game and maxes out all the stats. Martinez is extremely quick on his feet, has a rocket arm and does an exceptional job of alluding pressure in the pocket. Last season, Martinez made a splash during his freshman season, throwing for a total of 2617 yards, passing for 17 TDs and finishing the year with a 64.6 completion percentage. Martinez also amounted for 629 rushing yards on the year and came up with 8 rushing TDs. It is important to note that Martinez was only a freshman last season so although these numbers are not the most impressive in the world, one can assume he is only going to grow with age. It is also important to mention that Nebraska has one of the best-recruiting classes in the country coming in and Martinez will be welcomed to campus with some new offense weapons. Martinez has what it takes to win the Heisman. He is one of the more versatile QBs in the nation and is a born playmaker. However, I just think that the amount of talent at the QB position this year is so thick, that Martinez will be lucky to stand out in a crowd.

5. D’Andre Swift – RB (Georgia)

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We have now made it to our first (and only) non-QB on this list. So why D’Andre Swift you may ask? Well for starters, I feel that Swift is the best running back in the nation and has the best chance of any non-QB to win the Heisman this year. Sure, you have your Travis Etienne’s and J.K. Dobbins of the world out there, but Swift is in a class of his own. Swift is heading into his junior season with the Georgia Bulldogs and thus far, has been nothing but a freight train for the boys down south. Last season, in which Georgia was a stop or 2 away from making the national championship, Swift rushed for a total of 1049  yards, averaged 6.4 yards a carry and equated for 10 rushing TDs. Swift was also a skilled receiver and finished his 2018 campaign with 297 receiving yards.

One thing that I really like about Swift, is his ability to rough defenders up. Swift is a downhill runner, and if you get in his way, you are going to have to pay the consequences. I expect Swift to have a monster season and think he could finish the year anywhere from 1600 to 1800 rushing yards. As Georgia continues to develop running back greats, Swift is just another man to fit the mold.

4. Sam Ehlinger – QB (Texas)

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WEEEEEREEEE BAAACK. These were the famous words shouted out by Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, following a Sugar Bowl win against the heavily favored Georgia Bulldogs. As this quote made headlines across the country, one could only help but wonder, why are they back? What was the main reason for the Texas Longhorns’ success and who is to thank? Well, other than a really good defense, the main reason that Texas is officially back is due to the man who made the comment himself. Sam Ehlinger is a SPECIAL QB., and I don’t use that word lightly. The dual-threat QB from Austin can hurt you in more ways than one and has leadership qualities that are hard to find in any profession.

Last summer, when Ehlinger returned to campus for his sophomore season, the Texas Longhorn football program was in a place of shambles. They were not winning games and needed someone, something to get them back on track. Sam was that guy. Slowly but surely, Ehlinger put this team on his back and began to climb up the mountain of success. Texas began to win ball games and at one point, even beat its rival Oklahoma in a game for the ages. During that rivalry game, Ehlinger had the game of his life, throwing for 314 yards, and compiling 5 total touchdowns (2 in the air, 3 on the ground.) By season’s end, Texas was not only officially back, but Ehlinger had established himself as one of the best QB in the nation, as he threw for a total of 3292 yards, tossed 25 TD passes, and recorded just 5 INTs. Ehlinger also ran for 16 total TDs and rushed for a total of 432 yards. What does 2019 hold in store for the Texas Longhorns? I’m not sure. One thing I can tell you, however, is that when Sam Ehlinger is under center, Texas will always be in the thick of things.

3. Jake Fromm – Georgia (QB)

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We have now made it to our top 3. Now I am going to be honest, it was extremely hard to determine where to place these 3 players numerically and was almost impossible to pick between one and two. The reason being that these 3 QBs are on such a higher level then everybody else right now, the rest of the country should just pack up and go home. These three quarterbacks are what makes college football special. They are what makes us wake up on Saturday mornings in the fall and think to ourselves “IT’S GAMEDAY.” These three athletes will be playing on Sundays soon so we better enjoy them while we have ’em. With that being said, let’s start with our bronze medalist, Jake Fromm. I could write, talk and watch Jake Fromm all day long and fail to get bored even for a second. In his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, Fromm has done things I hadn’t even thought were possible at the college level. In his freshman season, Fromm led his Bulldogs to a 13-2 record which featured an SEC Championship and an appearance in the National Championship game. I remember watching Fromm that season and thinking to myself, how is this kid doing this as a true freshman? It shouldn’t look this easy. Then, last season in what was Fromm’s sophomore campaign, Jake continued to succeed, throwing for a total of 2749 yards, tossing for 30 TD passes and equating for just 6 INTs. Fromm also led the Bulldogs to their second straight SEC Championship game in which they dominated the Alabama Crimson Tide during 75 percent of the game. Fromm may be a bit overlooked as his numbers are not comparable to one of Tua or Trevor, but if you judge by the eye test in which I have extensively, you know that this kid has the it factor and is as good of a player as anyone in the entire nation. I am honestly sad that I only have one more season to watch Fromm at the collegiate level.

 

2. Tua Tagovailoa – QB (Alabama)

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When Tua Tagovailoa stepped on campus in 2017, he was not the starting QB. He was an incoming freshman from Hawaii who had promise but wasn’t quite good enough to suppress current Crimson Tide starter Jalen Hurts. So Tagovailoa rode the bench with grace, waiting for his opportunity to show the world what he truly has. That opportunity came on January 8th, 2018. Alabama was facing conference foe Georgia in the National Championship and was looking to take home their 17th national title in program history. However, things did not go as planned early on and the Crimson tide found themselves trailing early thanks to a lackluster performance by Jalen Hurts. In what was considered a desperation move at the time, Nick Saban called upon a true freshman to try to save his team’s season. In this situation, most people Tua’s age would crumple up in a ball and beg to go home. But Tua didn’t. Tagovailoa not only took the challenge head-on but made the moment his bitch. Thanks to poise, composure and a whole bunch of grit, Tagovailoa managed to lead his team all the way back to victory in what is widely considered as the most improbable National Championships in college football history.

Deservedly so, Tagovailoa made his way to Tuscaloosa in 2018 knowing the starting job belonged to him. Tua mania had struck nation and the anticipation to see what this gunslinger from Hawaii could do in a full season of work, was through the roof. As the season began, Tua not only met these expectations but blew them out of the water. Tua carved up defenses like they were Christmas Day hams and the domination of the Crimson Tide offense became almost unfair. I remember writing an article last season discussing the topic of just how assertive and commanding this Tua lead offense was and questioned if they were the best offense I have ever seen. What was most impressive about Tua’s game you may ask? He had freakishly good accuracy and was able to control every second of every game. I mean for goodness sake, Tagovailoa didn’t throw an interception until week 9 of the 2018 season. How is that even possible? How can anyone be that poised? As the regular season came to a close, the Heisman trophy all but belonged to Tagovailoa. It was locked up and the key could have been thrown away for argument’s sake. But, thanks to a really sloppy SEC championship game performance against a stingy Georgia defense in which Tagovailoa threw 2 INTs, Kyler Murray swooped in and stole the Heisman trophy at the very last second. This couldn’t have felt good for Tua at all. Tagovailoa had finished the year 3rd in the nation in passing TDs with 43, was top ten in the country in INTs with just 6, and was top 15 in the land in total passing yards with 3966. And yet, it still wasn’t enough to take home the hardware. This is a big reason why I have Tua so high on my list. Other than him being one of the best college QBs I have ever seen, Tagovailoa has unfinished business to take care of and is going to let nothing get in his way.

1. Trevor Lawrence – QB (Clemson)

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Here it is, my official front runner for the Heisman heading into the 2019 CFB season. After much thought and deliberation, I felt that there was no better man to lead this list than Trevor Lawrence himself. I think it is first important to establish why I am so high on Lawrence and what I exactly see in him. Well for starters, I see a kid, who last year as a freshman, took his team and not only beat Alabama in a National Championship but absolutely dominated them. When I watched that game, I saw a kid who was younger than me, do things that I don’t think could be done by most men in their late 30s. By game’s end, Lawrence had amounted for 347 total passing yards, had thrown 3 TD passes and finished the game with a 184.5 QBR. I also see a kid who finished the season throwing for 30 TD passes, over 3000 yards in the air and equating for just 4 INTs on the year. I see a star in the making.

Lawrence was born to be a QB. The amount of poise he carries with him on the field is absolutely admirable. The pinpoint accuracy he displays is something you only see in the NFL and his arm strength, oh his arm strength reminds me of Aaron Rodgers in his prime. I think Trevor Lawrence is so good in fact, that if healthy this season, I think he can lead his team to a national championship, win the ACC and ACC player of the year, go undefeated and win the Heisman going away. Do not get me wrong, the other 6 guys on this list are absolutely exceptional athletes, but they do not compare to Lawrence and do not come close to having the upside that this Georgia boy brings daily. I could go as far as saying that I think we are looking at our next Aaron Rodgers in the making. I believe that much in this kid. The scary thing is, he has two more years to dominate college competition before any NFL team can even get their hands on him. Enjoy it while you can college football fans.

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