By Mike Szvetitz FrontPageBets
As we get closer to the start of the college football season, it’s time to take a look at the early favorites for the sport’s most coveted and legendary individual award.
The Heisman Trophy has become a reward for quarterbacks: since 2000, 18 flaggers have won it. During this period, only three running backs and only one wide receiver (DeVonta Smith in 2020) returned home with the bronze statue.
This year, at least with the early favorites, it’s no different: nine of the top 10 players leading most sports betting odds are quarterbacks. And most of them come from teams that are favorites to win the national championship. Not a coincidence.
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Ohio State Quarterback C.J. Stroud (+250)
Stroud has the stats, no doubt. He was third in the nation with 44 touchdown passes and fifth in yards (4,449) last season. He also finished second in the nation in passing efficiency (186.56) and third in completion percentage (71.9%). As a freshman, he was also responsible for 22 points per game for the Buckeyes, who was third in FBS; and he averaged 10.1 yards per attempt, which was second.
And if you missed it, Stroud ignited the Rose Bowl with his 573-yard, six-touchdown performance against Utah.
Paired with some of the best offensive talent in the country, including junior wide Jaxon Smith-Njigbawhich is +3000 to win the Heisman, and running back Tre Veyon Henderson (more on him later), it’s no wonder Stroud is the favorite.
Alabama Quarterback Bryce Young (+350)
Last season, Young became the first Crimson Tide quarterback to win the Heisman. Can he repeat this year?
If so, he would be the first consecutive winner (and the only other player to win it twice in his career) since Archie Griffin of Ohio State (1974-75).
Young was second in the nation last season as a sophomore in passing yards, throwing for 4,872. He also threw for 47 touchdowns, good enough for second in the nation. Young was responsible for 308 of the Crimson Tide’s 598 offensive points in 2021.
There have been a handful of quarterbacks (Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, James Winston, lamar jackson) who tried to repeat in their encore seasons, but had no luck. Young will have to surpass last year’s performance to stand a chance.
USC Quarterback Caleb Williams (+900)
Williams had a stellar first season for Oklahoma in 2021. Then he followed his head coach Lincoln Riley to Southern California play for the Trojans, where he should be able to continue his trajectory without limits.
Williams came onto the scene last year against Texas in Week 6 on October 9, coming off the bench to lead the Sooners to a big win over their Big 12 rivals. And he never let up on the job, starting the last seven games in place of spencer ratter (+4000 to win the Heisman).
As a dual-threat quarterback, Williams passed for over 1,900 yards and rushed for 442 more, racking up 27 total touchdowns. He was fifth in the nation in passing efficiency (169.62).
Now, what will he do before the season as QB1 with a new team, but the same coach?
Texas running back Bijan Robinson (+2000)
Although he only played 10 games last year before a dislocated elbow derailed his second season, the Longhorn the running back had an outstanding year. He averaged 5.78 yards per carry and rushed for 1,127 yards and 15 all-around touchdowns. Robinson reached the end zone in all but one game he played last year.
Imagine what he could do with a full season, if he stays healthy? That is, if Texas can bounce back from a 5-7 season to help Robinson in his campaign.
Clemson Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (+2800)
It’s never easy being the guy who follows the guy, and that’s what happened with Uiagalelei last year, taking the reins from the former No. 1 NFL pick. Trevor Lawrence. Uiagalelei didn’t live up to all the hype for Clemsonthrowing for 2,200 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a sophomore, completing just 55% of his passes.
This season, Uiagalelei is expected to rebound, pushed by 18-year-old real freshman Cade Klubnik, who came to campus early to practice in spring drills. This competition, along with the experience he gained last season, could propel Uiagalelei to the fore. Or, it could pull him down.
Ohio State running back Tre Veyon Henderson (+4000)
Henderson averaged 6.82 yards per carry last season, good for second in the nation. He finished with 1,248 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. In a team full of stars, Henderson might be overlooked, but his production won’t.
Auburn running back Bigsby Reservoir (+7000)
Bigsby was Auburnlast year he carried the ball 224 times. He finished with 1,102 yards and 10 touchdowns. He could have a breakout year for the Tigers with a new offensive coordinator.
Mike Szvetitz is the Managing Director and Chief Content Officer for FrontPageBets.com. Szvetitz is a 22-year veteran journalist and editor, including 17 years as a sportswriter in Florida, Alabama and Virginia, covering everything from prep to pros. His “View From The Lazy Boy” column has won several state and national awards. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.