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2017 Heisman Watch

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Author: David Petfalski (@dpetfalski23)

1) QB Lamar Jackson – Louisville

2016 Stats: 3,543 Pass Yards on 56.2%, 30 TDs & 9 INTs. 1,571 Rush Yards, 21 TDs

Man, what a season Jackson had. He took the country by storm as he accounted for over 5,000 total yards and 51 TDs. If he wants to become just the 2nd two-time winner of this award, he’s most likely going to have to top what he did last year. That’s going to be a very difficult task considering he’s losing a lot of his offensive weapons.

2) RB Saquon Barkley – Penn State

2016 Stats: 1,898 Rush Yards, 22 TDs & 402 Receiving Yards, 4 TDs

After a strong all-around Sophomore campaign, Barkley went out with a bang, putting up 195 yards and 2 TDs on the ground, to go along with 55 yards and another TD receiving in a tough Rose Bowl loss to USC. With defenses forced to respect the lethal passing game led by Trace McSorley, look for Barkley to have an even better season than he did a year ago.

3) QB Sam Darold – USC

2016 Stats: 3,086 Pass Yards on 67.2%, 31 TDs & 9 INTs. 250 Rush Yards, 2 TDs

Anyone who follows the NFL Draft knows that Darnold is the run-away favorite to be the first QB taken next season. He’s got all the tools. Like Barkley, he finished the season strongly, going for a season-high 453 yards and 5 TDs. Look for him to build off that performance heading into this season.

4) QB Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma

2016 Stats: 3,965 Pass Yards on 70.9%, 40 TDs & 8 INTs. 177 Rush Yards, 6 TDs

After finishing 3rd in the Heisman voting a year ago, Baker looks to improve on his 2016 campaign and end up right back in New York for the ceremony again this season. Mayfield lit up Big 12 defenses, along with departed teammates Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and Dede Westbrook, and will likely do the same again despite the losses.

5) RB Derrius Guice – LSU

2016 Stats: 1,387 Rush Yards, 15 TDs. 106 Receiving Yards, 1 TD

The casual fan may not know who Guice is, but anyone who follows college football closely knows that he is something special. He put up almost 1,400 yards while splitting time in the backfield with Leonard Fournette. The fact that he made First Team All-SEC last season despite not getting full-time duties is very impressive. Watch out for him to be one of the top RBs taken in next year’s draft.

6) QB Jalen Hurts – Alabama

2016 Stats: 2,780 Pass Yards on 62.8%, 23 TDs & 9 INTs. 954 Rush Yards, 13 TDs

The 18-year old (turns 19 in August) quarterback sensation out of Channelview, Texas is only getting warmed up. After becoming the first true freshman to start at QB for Alabama in over 30 years, Hurts looks to lead the tide to his 2nd National Championship Game in as many tries.

7) QB J.T. Barrett – Ohio State

2016 Stats: 2,555 Pass Yards on 61.5%, 24 TDs & 7 INTs. 845 Rush Yards, 9 TDs

Even though Barrett had an up and down junior season, he was still one of the top quarterbacks in the country. As long as the Buckeye’s are playing well, and are in the playoff race, then J.T. will be in the Heisman discussion as well. The biggest thing for Buckeye fans to worry about is his consistency. He’s been too inconsistent in the past, so if he can get those issues figured out, Ohio State’s in for a fun season.

8) RB Bo Scarbrough – Alabama

2016 Stats: 812 Rush Yards, 11 TDs

Although the numbers weren’t too sexy, Scarbrough was a beast last season. He saved his best two games of the season for last, as he put up 180 yards and 2 TDs in the Peach Bowl semifinal against Washington, and then another 93 yards and 2 TDs in the National Championship loss to Clemson. If Scarbrough is given the majority of the carries this season, look for him to be closer to the 1,500 yard mark.

9) QB Shane Buechele – Texas

2016 Stats: 2,958 Pass Yards on 60.4%, 21 TDs & 11 INTs. 161 Rush Yards, 2 TDs

The youngster from Arlington had a promising freshman campaign as he became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the ‘Horns since 1944. Buechele will only get better with the addition of Tom Herman at the head coaching position. He’s got a ton of talent with great deep ball accuracy, so as long as Herman continues to surround him with top-level talent, Buechele is poised for a breakout season.

10) QB Trace McSorley – Penn State

2016 Stats: 3,614 Pass Yards on 57.9%, 29 TDs & 8 INTs. 365 Rush Yards, 7 TDs

McSorley was outstanding last season, especially in the second half, leading the charge as the Nittany Lions became the hottest team in the country alongside USC, and almost propelled them into the College Football Playoff. With most of his weapons returning this season, look for him to pick up right where he left off last year.