Heisman Hopefuls Heading Into Week 5

We have reached October football, a third of the way through the 2022 college football season. Wow that went fast. Too fast!

The Heisman race includes two finalists (including, of course, a winner) from last year with natural appeal but also a number of talented players from across the college football landscape that are elbowing – nay shoving – their way into the early conversation.

Among the somewhat surprising names garnering attention this week that might turn your head include Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. — one of three Heisman hopefuls the New York Post highlighted this week.

The transfer from Indiana has led the Huskies to a 4-0 start, including back-to-back double-digit wins over No. 11 Michigan State and rival Stanford. He has thrown for 1,388 yards — with at least 300 in each start — with 12 TDs and just one interception. His passing total is less than 300 yards shy of his four-year season-best with the Hoosiers.

Ohio State QB and 2021 Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud’s play has him firmly on everyone’s shortlist. Last week he threw five TD passes for the second game in a row in a Buckeye blowout of Wisconsin

ESPN.com — which polls 15 of its staffers — has Stroud No. 1 in this ranking after Week 4.

Interestingly, the World Wide Leader’s staff has Kansas QB Jalon Daniels No. 2, a spot ahead of defending Heisman winner Bryce Young. Daniels has the Jayhawks 4-0 for the first time since 2009, completing 71% of his passes for 890 yards and 11 scores while rushing for 320 yards at 8.4 yards per carry with four more TDs — numbers definitely worthy of a high ranking.

Daniels is fourth in The Athletic’s most recent Heisman Straw Poll, whose top 5 features Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, Young, Daniels and Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker. Penix Jr. is sixth.

Hooker, who has the Vols 4-0 with two wins over ranked teams, continues to get attention from Heisman prognosticators. And rightly so. The Virginia Tech transfer is completing nearly 72% of his passes and threw for 349 yards with 112 rushing yards last week in a win over Florida.

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde has Hooker atop his weekly rankings heading into Week 5. Said Forde on Hooker: “Credit for Tennessee’s fast start begins at the top, with second-year coach Josh Heupel, but the player making it go is Hooker.”

Among Forde’s other top candidates are Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim and Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd also has Hooker first in his top 5 here.

Bowers, the 2021 SEC Freshman of the Year, has 15 receptions for 276 yards and two TDs for the top-ranked Bulldogs with three rushing TDs, including this rumble (well, more of a sprint really) for 75 yards against Kent State.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asks: “Why not Brock Bowers?” 

Stetson Bennett, Bowers’ quarterback in Athens, is deep on the Athletic poll at 10th while in the Post’s top 5. The Bulldog has passed for 1,224 yards and five TDs in leading UGA to its unbeaten start.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is two spots ahead of Stetson, the transfer from Oklahoma leading the Trojans to a No. 6 ranking and its first 4-0 start since 2010.

Many outlets like SaturdayBlitz have Alabama’s Young in their top 2 in their Heisman rankings. Said the Fansided site this week: “When it comes down to it, Bryce Young is as good as any player in college football. He’s been a little sluggish at times this season (the Texas game comes to mind), however, Young has delivered when needed and he’s starting to round into form.”

Alabama is 4-0 and Young just threw for 385 yards and four TDs in the Crimson Tide’s SEC opener against Vanderbilt.

Others fighting for Heisman ink include Michigan RB Blake Corum (Yardbarker discusses his chances here), Alabama linebacker and fifth-place 2021 Heisman vote-getter Will Anderson and Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan (check out his PFF grade here).