2017 Heisman Trophy Candidates

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Quarterback Sam Darnold
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Quarterback Sam Darnold /

The college football season is right around the corner and we already have at least 5 strong Heisman Candidates.

It’s early in the process but several college football stars have already established themselves as early Heisman Candidates. The group below are my top 5 Heisman candidates which will be adjusted as the season progresses.

5.  J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State– J.T. Barrett is entering his third year as the starter for the Buckeyes.This will be his fourth with significant playing time.

The Buckeyes signal caller can use his legs just as well as his arm. Having success in both areas will be crucial to Barrett’ Heisman chances.

Ohio State also has the talent around him that will help drive up his stats. Running back Mike Weber, tight end Marcus Baugh, and wide receiver Parris Campbell  are the top playmakers.

They will create a balanced offense that can help Barrett attack from all areas of the field.

4.  Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville– There can’t be a 2017 Heisman prediction list without the 2016 Heisman winner, and Lamar Jackson fits in at number four.

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Jackson had an amazing season in 2016, passing for over 3,500 yards and rushing for over 1,500 yards. He also accounted for 51 total touchdowns.

Once again he will be the Cardinals’ top scoring threat with both his arm and his legs.

The experience he has gained over the last two seasons as the starter could lead to his best season yet, and his second Heisman Trophy.

3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma– Baker Mayfield had a very productive season last season for Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to a Big 12 Championship and a Sugar Bowl win against Auburn.

In 2016, he led the country in completion percentage while throwing for 40 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions.

Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon, and Samaje Perine have all moved on from Oklahoma. This may hurt Mayfield’s overall production, but he should be able to work past it.

Returning tight end Mark Andrews will be vital to Mayfield’s Heisman Chances. Andrews will be one of the first tight ends to go in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Oklahoma’s chances at another Big 12 title hinge on the play of Mayfield and Andrews.

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State– Saquon Barkley had one of the most electric runs of the 2016 season during the Rose Bowl last year vs. USC. That 79-yard touchdown run gained Barkley national attention, but he had been doing that all season.

Barkley ran for over 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He also caught 28 balls for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Barkley is an unbelievable runner, but his skills as a pass catcher may push him over the edge in the Heisman voting.

He may be the best back in the country and should be a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Nittany Lions should be able to compete for a Big 10 Championship while riding Barkley’s coattails.

1. Sam Darnold, QB, USC– USC quarterback Sam Darnold is by far the player with most hype surrounding him entering the 2017 season.

Darnold’s performance in last year’s Rose Bowl was unbelievable, and even more unbelievable being only a redshirt freshman.

He can use his legs to escape pressure and steal first downs, but his primary weapon is his arm.

Darnold has a solid arm with pinpoint accuracy, and incredible touch on his passes. He threw for 31 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions, while only starting in 10 games.

The Trojan quarterback went 9-1 as a starter.

He defeated Washington, UCLA, Notre Dame three games of the season. Then, led USC to a Rose Bowl Championship over Penn State.

Darnold will be the heavy favorite for the Heisman this year. He may also be the first quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft.