Heisman Watch 2021 continues to be a drama with no obvious ending.
With a handful of weeks left in the season, the Heisman debate includes quite a lot of names still.
Below are many of the top candidates being bandied about.
A week ago, Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III took a leap on many people’s Heisman boards and despite Michigan State losing its first game Saturday to Purdue, he still rushed for 146 yards on 23 carries and a score. He now has 1,330 yards and 15 TDs. ESPN gave the Wake Forest transfer a re-introduction heading into last weekend’s action here.
Georgia DL Jordan Davis posts modest stats while anchoring the nation’s top defense, allowing his teammates to make plays. He has 21 tackles, 3.5 for loss with two sacks and eight QB hits. A case from The Athletic for Davis making it to New York is here.
As Yahoo! Sports’ Sam Cooper put it: “Davis is a premier run-stuffer, consistently commanding double-team blocks and punishing offensive lines on a down-to-down basis. With Davis occupying blockers, the rest of Georgia’s defenders are free to fly around to the ball.”
Added Georgia Coach Kirby Smart on the topic at a recent media availability: “”I love Jordan and what he has done for our defense is incredible. I don’t think you can measure the statistics and what he’s done for our defense, but I’m no analyst to be deciding who gets to go to the Heisman, and who’s up for it. I think that’s the media and the talking heads and everybody that gets to be a part of that they control the narrative there. For me, it’s about our team and our team’s play. Well, Jordan has been a tremendous, tremendous part of that. It’s been a bigger bonus to our defense from a confidence standpoint, in a run-stopping standpoint than probably any other measurable stat that we have there.”
Alabama QB Bryce Young returned to action after a bye and passed for 302 yards and two TDS in a close win over LSU. His TD to interception ratio is now 28-3 and he has thrown for 2,755 yards.
Those three are 1-2-3 in The Athletic’s latest Heisman straw poll with Walker III leading by a large margin. That poll actually lists Alabama LB Will Anderson tied with teammate Young. He has 65 stops and 10 sacks on the year plus a nation-best 21 TFLs.
The only other player to garner first place votes in that poll was Ole Miss QB Matt Corral. He threw for 324 yards and a score in the Rebels’ win over Liberty and its own early-season dark horse Heisman candidate, QB Malik Willis. Corral is also the Rebels leading rusher (528 yards) to to go with his 2,527 yards and 16-2 TD to INT ratio.
Interestingly in that poll, neither Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud or RB teammate TreVeyon Henderson garnered even a third-place vote among the 16 on the list.
Stroud totaled 405 yards in the air, two TDs and two picks in a similarly close win over Nebraska, his third 400-yard passing game of the season. He has 2,675 passing yards and a 25-5 TD-INT ratio.
Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman has totaled 35 TDs – 27 passing, eight rushing – to go with 2,873 passing yards. He had 476 total yards in a loss to North Carolina last week with seven TDs.
Tar Heel QB Sam Howell, who orchestrated the win over the Demon Deacons, has been impressive since Week 6, per this PFF stat.
Oklahoma freshman QB Caleb Williams had a bye last week, his stat line of 1,189 passing yards and 14-1 TD to INT ratio staying in tact.
Pitt QB Kenny Pickett threw for 416 yards and three TDs to go with 57 yards on the ground in a loss to Miami last week, crossing the 3K threshold to 3,171 passing yards with 29 TDs, both top 5 in the country.
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder has stayed in the conversation all year and had 317 yards and three TDs in last week’s win over Tulsa.
Bleacher Report’s top 5 Heisman candidates heading into this weekend is listed as No. 1 Young, No. 2 Walker III, No. 3 Stroud, No. 4 Corral and No. 5. Pickett.