For the next few weeks leading up until the start of the College Football season, I will be previewing different teams, players, and more from the SEC. This week I preview the players who will be the top Heisman Trophy candidates from the conference this season.
5. Benny Snell-Kentucky
This was a tough one. I had to pick between Benny Snell, Damien Harris, and D’Andre Swift for which SEC running back would make my top five.
I went with Snell because I think he has the easier path. Harris and Swift both have teammates within my top five who just happen to be quarterbacks. As a running back, it’s already hard enough to beat out quarterbacks for the Heisman. Just imagine how hard it would be if a great quarterback was on your own team.
It works in Snell’s advantage that Kentucky will field a quarterback that will most likely not post numbers like Alabama’s or Georgia’s quarterbacks will. Snell will often be the biggest reason that the Wildcats win football games this fall, and I think people will notice that.
Benny Snell, are you the best running back in the SEC? pic.twitter.com/jeQesAumBz
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) July 16, 2018
The reason why I have Snell at No. 5 is simple. I don’t see Kentucky having a good enough season that will put Snell in Heisman contention. Realistically, the Wildcats would probably have to win at least nine regular season games for Snell to be in contention for the award and I don’t see that happening.
Also, I don’t see any running back from the SEC winning the Heisman this year with Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin and Bryce Love from Stanford still out there. They will cancel out any chance Snell, Harris or Swift will have at the award simply because they will put up better stats on great teams.
4. Jake Fromm-Georgia
Fromm is my Darkhorse candidate for this award because I don’t think anyone is talking about him when it comes to being in contention for the Heisman.
It seems like more people are putting hype behind D’Andre Swift which doesn’t make much sense to me. Also, there is a considerable amount of hype behind freshman quarterback Justin Fields who joined the Bulldogs in the spring. Some suggest that he will be the starting quarterback by mid-season.
I think that is simply ludicrous. In my opinion, Fromm looked like an NFL quarterback against Alabama in the title game last season as a freshman. He is easily the starter on this team and will be so the entire season.
Forgive me if I’m ridiculously late to this party: But I’m just realizing that the 47-yard dime of a flea flicker Jake Fromm threw Terry Godwin against Mississippi State was thrown WITHOUT THE LACES OF THE BALL.
That boy is good, y’all. pic.twitter.com/UyoF2J1YaQ
— ????? ?????? (@LoganMBooker) February 1, 2018
Call it a hot take, but I think he will have a better season than Swift will have. The bulldogs have an incredibly easy schedule and with a whole season under his belt I think Fromm will have a big year.
Last season he threw for 2,615 yards while posting a 24-7 TD-INT ratio. I think he will easily clear over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns this year on a team that I think will win at least 11 regular season games. That’s a Heisman contender.
3. Nick Fitzgerald-Mississippi State
There isn’t much to say about Fitzgerald that hasn’t already been said. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the conference and he might be the best overall leader in the entire country.
I wasn't buying the @HailStateFB hype this summer. After a full review of the Bulldogs, I am now.
— Andrew Doughty (@Adoughty88) August 12, 2018
After suffering a horrific injury at the end of the season last year, Fitzgerald will attempt to bounce back in a big way in 2018. Mississippi State is already starting out the season ranked at No. 18 in the nation so there are in great position for a big year.
Outside of playing Auburn and Alabama, I think the Bulldogs should win their other 10 games. If Fitzgerald can improve on his 55% completion percentage and throw less interceptions, he will be squarely in the Heisman race.
Once you add in his rushing numbers, Fitzgerald tallied 2,766 yards and 29 total touchdowns last season. If he climbs over 3,000 total yards, improves that completion percentage, and defeats either Alabama or Auburn then I guarantee he will be in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
But that’s a lot of “ifs” for a player coming off a major injury.
2. Tua Tagovailoa-Alabama
At this point, I think that Tua is a virtual lock to start the season as Alabama’s starting quarterback. He is simply light years ahead of Hurts as a passer. If he does for some reason struggle early, the Crimson Tide’s easy schedule will work out any growing pains Tua may have at the start of the season.
Tua Tagovailoa is the future? pic.twitter.com/zFDe7gMb7v
— College Town™ (@CollegeT0wn) August 19, 2018
Some people may consider Tua at No. 2 a bit of a reach on this list, but I believe that much in his arm talent, play making ability, and leadership qualities. I see so much Russell Wilson in Tua that it really is uncanny.
Alabama almost always has a player in New York for the ceremony, and I think this season Tua has the best chance at being the best player on the best team in the country.
The Crimson Tide should go undefeated once again unless they trip up against Auburn in the last game of the season. Combine that with Tua possibly having the best statistical season any quarterback has had in Saban’s time in Tuscaloosa and you have yourself a Heisman Trophy contender.
1. Jarret Stidham-Auburn
Stidham is my pick for the SEC player with the best chance to win the Heisman because I think he has the clearest path to win the award.
Auburn’s entire receiving core returns, and while they do lose 4 starters off the offensive line the Tigers still return 4 players who have started six or more games on the line. With halfback Kerryon Johnson departing, this offense is perfectly tailored for Stidham to have a huge season in the passing game.
Another huge plus is that Stidham will be playing on national television throughout the entire season. Voters will be consistently seeing Stidham airing it out in huge games as he plays Washington in his first game, Mississippi State at the halfway point, and Georgia and Alabama at the end of the season.
Yes, the schedule is not the easiest for the Tigers this year, but you don’t have to win every single game to win the Heisman Trophy. If Stidham can put up huge numbers this season Auburn can easily drop two out of those four games and I think he easily ends up in New York.
The Tigers start the season ranked as the ninth best team in the country. If they can play their way into the playoff thanks in most part to a huge season from Stidham, then the former Baylor quarterback should win the Heisman trophy.