In the world of football journalism, whether regarding college or the professional level, it’s never too early to start looking ahead to the next season.
The time between the end of the previous season, to the marquee off-season events, to the beginning of the upcoming season, always seem to take an eternity and a half. To fill the void, we look ahead with optimism and unrequited excitement.
So today, I asked the guys of Breaking Football to give me their favorites for the 2018 Heisman Trophy. Here is what they had to say:
Zach Hicks: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (+750 favorite at Bovada)
After finishing 3rd in the nation in rushing yards as a freshman, it’s safe to assume he’s only going to get better. In a run heavy offense on a good team, he has the ability to win the Heisman in his second season.
PJ Green: Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona (+1400 odds)
Tate was a semifinalist for the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards despite only starting 8 games last year. With a full off-season entrenched as the starter and new offensive-minded Kevin Sumlin as HC, Arizona’s offense is bound to explode while propelling Tate into national stardom.
Chris Spooner: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford (+800)
Bryce Love was one of the best, most explosive backs in all of college football last season, and he did most of his damage on a banged up ankle. If he’s coming back at 100% this season, the sky’s the limit.
Brad Kelly: AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Dillon capped off his true Freshman season by rushing for 1,411 yards and 13 touchdowns over his final 9 games. The 6’0 240 pound bruiser was a highly ranked running back recruit coming out of high school, and will return to Chestnut Hill as the focal point of the offense. In a run heavy offense and with enough returning starters to suggest the Eagles will improve on their 7 win total from 2017, Dillon is primed to lead the country in rushing yards as a Sophomore.
J.T. Olson: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri (+2500)
Lock has fantastic pure talent. He returns to Missouri after ranking 5th in the nation in passer rating and 1st in passing touchdowns in 2017. He will be working under a new offensive coordinator, Derek Dooley, who spent the last five years as the wide receivers coach with the Dallas Cowboys which means the offense will likely take full advantage of what Lock can do throwing the ball. It also means his weapons might be a little better in 2018. If Lock can build on what he did last year then he should be in the thick of the Heisman race.
Riley Auman: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Wisconsin returns several of the cornerstones that made their offensive line one of the best in college football last year in Michael Deiter, David Edwards, and Beau Benzschawel and paved the way for Taylor to run for a hair under 2,000 yards last season as a freshman. Taylor is the centerpiece of an offense that is built on their run game and he should see development entering his sophomore season.
Michael Peterson: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (+900)
My selection of Tagovailoa is obviously only relevant if he ends up winning the starting quarterback over incumbent Jalen Hurts prior to the season opener. However, I believe he will and I made this pick accordingly.
Tua showed impressive intangibles, including some massive cojones one the instant-classic overtime victory over Georgia in the title game. Some may suggest Alabama was in good hands with Hurts at the helm as he kept the machine running and winning for the last couple but I believe giving the reigns over to a much more proficient passer will absolutely blow the top off the offense.
If he does end up getting the nod over Hurts, I truly believe Tagovailoa will break the mold of the stereotypical Alabama QB being nothing more than a “game manager”.
That does it for our panel’s look at some of the top contenders for the 2018 Heisman Trophy award. So far, Taylor is the favorite at the top NFL sportsbooks and he is the top favorite per our site at the moment, as well. A lot can change over the next several months, but Taylor winning would certainly not be a shock.
Think someone else on this list (or not listed) will win? Tell us your thoughts on this year’s Heisman winner in the comments below, or via Twitter @Breaking_fb!