With the 2017 college football season right around the corner, The Champaign Room’s staff have made a series of predictions. Today, in the series’ third edition, TCR’s staff predicted the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson won the award last season.
Stephen Cohn: JT Barrett (Ohio State QB)
Barrett’s athleticism and leadership will prove to be the difference between Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson winning his second Heisman. With a group of receivers and the trust from Urban Meyer to make smart decisions with the ball in his hands, Barrett will have every opportunity to show voters why he deserves college football’s most prestigious honor in his final season.
Michael Berns: Sam Darnold (USC QB)
Darnold isn’t the Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart-type Heisman quarterback USC has had in the past — he’s much more athletic, and he’s sensational at getting rid of the ball on the run and extending plays with his feet. His unconventional style was on national display when USC rallied from behind to Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Darnold threw five touchdown passes to just one interception on the biggest stage of his playing career. The Heisman Trophy formula goes something like this: Best player on winning team + flashy/otherworldly highlight tape (think Johnny Manziel) = Heisman Trophy.
Brad Repplinger: JT Barrett
Heisman trophy winners have been a quarterback 13 of the last 16 years, and the pattern says we will see two more quarterbacks win the heisman before the next Running Back. I’ll take the eventual National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes and the man that will lead that team this season to be the Heisman Trophy winner. It’ll be Ohio State’s seventh Heisman, which would tie them with Notre Dame and USC for the most in NCAA history.
Josh Greenberg: Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold will win the Heisman as he will have an easier time picking apart the Pac-12 than J.T. Barrett will have against the Big Ten. The other contender will be Trace McSorely. Sam beats Trace because USC will be a better team than Penn State and, just like me, the voters will still remember last season in Pasadena where Darnold was the better man.
Austin Jabs: JT Barrett
Barrett is a man beast, playing on one of the best teams in the country, playing at the most visible position on the field. Barrett should rack up insane numbers, both on the ground and through the air, and he should win the Heisman by a wide margin.
Ian Gold: Bo Scarbrough (Alabama RB)
The Heisman goes to the nation's best quarterback, or whoever is toting the rock at Alabama. I’m just betting it’s a running back year. Bo Scarbrough is the Derrick Henry clone that dominated the last few games of 2016, and has won the role of Nick Saban’s favorite beast. Saban’s only joy in life is grinding opponents into submission during the second half of games, and his weapon of choice is the 6-foot-2, 235-pound behemoth that squats the panhandle and learned to sprint through sugar cane fires. If Scarbrough increases his carries from the paltry 143 carries of 2016, he should have the stats to earn the workhorse vote for the nation's’ top team.
Thumpasaurus: Bo Scarbrough
There will be some truly exciting players in college football. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield will be lighting up scoreboards, while Lamar Jackson will be on SportsCenter Top 10 at least three times. JT Barrett and Trace McSorley will battle for Big Ten supremacy with Saquon Barkley chiming in and Sam Darnold making his case known. Derrius Guice will be an early favorite as he rolls over defenses, until Bama holds him to 35 yards on 31 carries. At the end of the day, all those players will be on teams with losses. Mayfield has been there before, so unless he puts up numbers like Jackson did last year, he won’t win. No, the committee will see Alabama as far and away the superior team, then find the most statistically successful player on that team. Bo Scarbrough will be that player. Alabama is the heat death of the universe.
Bourbon: Deondre Francois (Florida State QB)
I’m tripling down on Francois this season because the Seminoles will need him to take on an even bigger role this season after losing Dalvin Cook to the NFL. As a true freshman, he posted 3,350 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. If he can cut down on the sacks — he took an unsustainable 34 last season — he’ll have a deep cabinet of Florida State freak-beast receivers to throw to.
Brandon Birkhead: Jalen Hurts (Alabama QB)
Hurts is a guy who will rush for over 1000 yards, and pass for over 3000. He will have 35-40 ish total TDs, and Alabama is going to be the best team in 2017. This is a pretty easy choice for me. People soured on him a little after a rather poor performance in the National Title Game, but he was only a freshman. He is going to have a super sophomore season for the Tide.