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College Hotline - Heisman Trophy: Favorites for 2016

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    The Hotline’s early preview of the ’16 season, which began with my top-25 projections, continues with a look at 10 Heisman Trophy contenders.

    It’s a loaded field, for sure — one of the best in recent memory — and the list below is stocked with familiar names.

    Important note I: I’m assuming the 2015 winner, Alabama running back Derrick Henry, turns pro. If he returns to school, add him to the list (obviously!).

    Important note II: Even without Henry, it stacks up as a terrific race: Five of the top-seven finishers from ’15 are expected back next season. (The other departure: Navy senior Keenan Reynolds.)

    Important note III: Individual excellence only goes so far. Of the 16 winners this century, only two played for teams that had lost more than two games when the Heisman ballots were due: Tim Tebow in 2007 and Robert Griffin III in 2011. (Both Florida and Baylor had 3 losses in the regular season.)


    Here we go:

    10. Baylor QB Seth Russell: Missed the final month of ’15 with a neck injury. If healthy, will post huge numbers for a potential top-10 team. Of course, that assumes he beats out backup Jarrett Stidham for the job.

    9. Oregon RB Royce Freeman: Toiled in Christian McCaffrey’s shadow last season. Might lead the nation in rushing in the fall.

    8. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett: A sack machine — he led the SEC as a sophomore — who enters ’16 as arguably the top Heisman candidate on the defensive side.

    7. Florida State RB Dalvin Cook: Finished fifth in the nation in rushing and should be even better next season. If the Seminoles contend for a playoff spot — it’s a good bet — Cook will be in the race.

    6. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett: Part of the Buckeyes’ quarterback rotation in ’15 but has the talent and the platform to make a strong push next season. Will a team decimated by attrition win enough games to support Barrett’s candidacy?

    5. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield: Strong close to the regular season but wasn’t invited to New York. Would be the third Sooner quarterback to win the award this century (Jason White and Sam Bradford).

    4. Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer: Because the Irish are the Irish — they’ve produced seven Heisman winners — Kizer won’t have to play as well as other candidates to contend … but he probably will. A terrific young talent.

    3. Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey: Came from nowhere to finish second but set expectations preposterously high with his performances in the Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl. Not difficult to envision a superb season that’s viewed by some voters as a letdown.

    2. LSU RB Leonard Fournette: Immense talent who led the nation in rushing despite playing for an offense that ranked 106th in passing. He went 1 vs. 11 every week and still averaged 6.5 yards per carry. That burden should ease in ’16 with the maturation of QB Brandon Harris and four returning starters up front.

    1. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson: Everything is lined up for Watson, who backed up his third-place finish in the Heisman race with a Vince Young-level performance in the title game (73 yards rushing, 405 passing). Enters ’16 as the best player on a preseason favorite, with plenty of upside potential from a statistical standpoint and a Heisman electorate that leans decidedly east and south.


    (Credit: truluvsports.com)

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    The post Heisman Trophy: Favorites for 2016 appeared first on College Hotline.

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    by Jon Wilner
     

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