The Buzz: The latest Heisman news and views
The closest Heisman vote was in 2009, when Alabama’s Mark Ingram edged Stanford’s Toby Gerhart by 28 points (three points for a first place vote, two for second, one for third). Texas’s Colt McCoy was a strong third.
The 2021 race could come down to a similarly narrow margin with high-level play coming from across the country but without a dominant player or two making a break from a very large pack of candidates. Yet.
We’re still not much past the halfway point of the season, and the plethora of candidates and names should make for an exciting race coming down the stretch.
Case in point, in The Athletic’s most recent Heisman straw poll saw the a new player sit atop its poll for the third straight week, this time featuring Mississippi QB Matt Corral following the Rebels’ win at Tennessee. He supplanted Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III (powering the 7-0 Spartans) and Alabama QB Bryce Young with Georgia DL Jordan Davis, who leads the dominant Bulldog defense on the top-ranked UGA squad, in fourth.
Beyond them Texas RB Bijan Robinson was fifth with Cincinnati QB Desmon Ridder sixth, his Bearcat team unbeaten and ranked No. 2.
The staff at Fansided still have Young – with a 24-3 TD to interception ratio and an SEC leading 180.40 QB rating – atop its most recent Heisman Top 5 with Corral at No. 2 – he has 1,728 passing yards and 14 passing TDs to go with 450 rushing yards and eight TDs on the ground. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett is third and with the Panthers facing a down-but-still-marquee Clemson team this week, he could pick up steam. Also on its list was Walker III at No. 4 and Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud at No. 5, his Buckeyes No. 5 at 5-1.
Yahoo! Sports completely disagrees that this is a wide open race and details here why they believe it’s a competition between Young (who also boasts this stat) and Corral. Its list has Robinson – now with 930 yards and 10 TDs, averaging 6.4 yards a carry – third, Stroud fourth and Ridder fifth. Among its “Watch List” names was unbeaten Liberty QB Malik Willis, Pickett, and Alabama RB Brian Robinson Jr.
Bleacher Report’s Heisman favorites echoed Yahoo! with Young and Corral at 1-2. It has Ridder No. 3, Walker III at No. 4 and Stroud, on a bye last week, at No. 5.
Robert Griffin III of ESPN posted his top 5 here, topped by Corral with Davis third.
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde, in his most recent column, highlighted just a few Heisman hopefuls, particularly Georgia’s nose guard Davis, who has 18 tackles in seven games, including three for loss and 1.5 sacks. Said Georgia teammate Adam Anderson: “When you see somebody like JD, how can he not be up for the Heisman?”.
Davis’ coach, Kirby Smart, per Forde, described Davis as “Godzilla-like. He’s the immovable object.” Forde went on to mention while Davis’ individual stats are modest, he leads a team that “leads the nation in fewest points allowed (6.6, which if it holds up would be the lowest since Oklahoma in 1986); total defense (207.1 yards per game); yards per play (3.55); and fewest scrimmage plays of 20-plus yards allowed (14, including zero for Kentucky Saturday).”
He also gave shine to another dark horse candidate in Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall, whose completion percentage this season (79.8) is on pace to break the FBS record, as are some of his other stats.
It’s hard to call any QB from Oklahoma a dark horse, but true freshman Caleb Williams has taken over the Sooners offense and is already generating Heisman buzz with his strong play. His chances? This Fansided article by Cory McCartney breaks it down well.
At 247Sports, they posit Young is still the player to beat with Corral, Walker III, Bijan Robinson and Ridder squarely in the hunt while also suggesting the door is open for a Williams run at the trophy.
The Heisman fraternity in the NFL had another strong week, capped on Monday Night Football by another huge game by Derrick Henry, who ran for 143 yards and 3 TDs, including this epic 76-yard sprint, detailed here.
Henry is the first player to run for 10 TDs in his team’s first six games since ’05 and his season totals of 783 yards on 162 carries with 10 TDs lead the league by wide margins. NFL Research noted this.
Arizona remained unbeaten, led by Kyler Murray, who threw 4 TD passes in his second match-up against OU teammate Baker Mayfield. Mayfield, was playing through a bad shoulder (that will cost him a start this week) but still connected on two TDs, including one impressive heave.
And Lamar Jackson keeps doing Lamar Jackson stuff, leading Baltimore to 5-1 Sunday. His 34 wins are the most of any QB in NFL history before his 25th birthday. Meanwhile, Joe Burrow threw for 271 yards and matched his career-best with 3 TDs as the Bengals improved to 4-2.
Jameis Winston was off and didn’t get a chance to add to his league-best eight TDs under pressure this year per Pro Football Focus, while Mark Ingram gained 73 yards rushing for Houston, his second-highest total this year.