It’s never too early to discuss the Heisman trophy.
What used to be an award that was mainly talked about toward the end of the season has now turned into a weekly beauty pageant.
After Lamar Jackson became the youngest Heisman winner in history last year, he came into the season as the heavy favorite for the award again, but things have quickly changed.
After a bad loss to Clemson at home, Jackson fell from the perch of the odds-on favorite.
Now Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield has emerged as the frontrunner:
From The Sporting News:
Last season, Lamar Jackson ran away with the Heisman Trophy, all but winning the award by midseason. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, after suffering two early season losses to Houston and Ohio State, rallied through a tremendous 2016 season but still couldn’t come close to catching Jackson.
Now, it’s Jackson’s turn to chase Mayfield. After a brutal loss to Clemson, Jackson slips back in Heisman projections, giving voters the reason they needed to prevent him from attaining Archie Griffin status (that is, winning the award twice). Plus, Mayfield continues to shine as the Heisman favorite for the 2017 season.
Here’s a breakdown of the top five candidates for the trophy:
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Why he’s top-five: Rosen entered Saturday’s games firmly in the top-three discussion, but UCLA’s loss to Memphis certainly forces Rosen to take a step back in Heisman projections. Still, his 1,283 passing yards tops all quarterbacks through three games, and his 13:2 touchdown to interception ratio takes some of the blame off of him for UCLA’s loss to Memphis (though he benefited from multiple dropped interceptions against Texas A&M).
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Why he’s top-five: The Cowboys entered the year as a top-10 team, and after three straight 40-plus point performances, it’s clear they’ll be a force all season. Rudolph, following a near 500-yard performance on just 32 dropbacks, will have the numbers all season to earn Heisman votes, and his NFL future may help voters appreciate his talent.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Why he’s top-five: Clemson surprisingly got the best of Lamar Jackson, and unlike last year, shut him down enough for a substantial win over the most talented quarterback in the country. But Jackson still has — and will continue to put up — video game numbers, especially against two cupcakes in Kent State and Murray State before he gets back into ACC play.
Sam Darnold, USC
Why he’s top-five: Darnold is here simply because he’s Sam Darnold of USC. With so much future NFL hype and playing quarterback for the Trojans, Darnold has captured the attention of media as they routinely look to thrust him into the spotlight. He hasn’t been overly impressive (throwing multiple interception in each of his three games) but he leads a top-five Trojans team. He now has strong victories over Stanford and Texas, and is a USC quarterback, so he’s in the mix.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Why he’s No. 1: Mayfield has been completely dominant to start 2016. His destruction of Ohio State’s defense in Week 2 reminded everyone why he was a Heisman finalist a year ago, and he didn’t slow down his production against Tulane, passing for 331 yards and four touchdowns on 17-of-27 passing. He now has 10 touchdowns to no interceptions, and there’s no reason to think he’ll slow down.
Mayfield’s ascension to arguably the best player in college football is unlikely. Due to his lack of ideal size, Mayfield didn’t get many big-time scholarship offers, and decided to walk on at Texas Tech.
He quickly transferred to Oklahoma and seized the starting job. After a dominant performance on the road in Columbus, Mayfield is in prime position to complete his Cinderella story.