College football is finally back, and its return means it’s time once again to keep an eye on the best players in the game. With all three 2014 Heisman Trophy finalists gone, the prestigious award is up for grabs.
In the last 15 seasons, quarterbacks have won the award 13 times (including Reggie Bush’s now vacated win in 2005). But running backs boast the most wins historically with 43.
Here are five players who have the best chance at being named the most outstanding college football player of 2015.
1. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB
Head coach Urban Meyer hasn’t announced who will be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, but I’m betting on Barrett getting that job, staying healthy and performing well throughout the season. Despite missing the last three games of 2014 with a broken ankle, Barrett threw for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 938 yards and 11 scores despite having one of the game’s best running backs, Ezekiel Elliott, in his backfield. With a solid offensive line protecting him, I fully expect Barrett to be a contender in the Heisman race.
2. Trevone Boykin, TCU QB
Boykin is a flashy dual-threat quarterback who leads the No. 2 ranked team in the country and was fourth in Heisman voting last season, so if you want to put him above Barrett, I understand. He attained a whopping 3,901 yards in the air with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2014, along with 707 yards on the ground and eight rushing scores. If Boykin remains efficient, he could very well be heading to the national championship game with one trophy already under his belt.
3. Nick Chubb, Georgia RB
If any running back can stop another quarterback from claiming the Heisman, it’s Chubb. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry in 2014, finishing the season with 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground along with two receiving scores on 213 receiving yards as a true freshman. As the focal point of Georgia’s offense in 2015, his carries will go up and so will his chances at being the first non-quarterback to win since 2009.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State RB
Having too much talent is a nice problem to have for the Buckeyes, but for Elliott as an individual, it could cost him the Heisman. His numbers last season were strong- 1,878 yards for 18 touchdowns and 6.9 yards per carry- but with Barrett, and possibly Cardale Jones, performing at a high level, Elliott probably won’t be the center of Ohio State’s offense. Regardless, if he plays well against Big Ten teams, his carries will increase and so will his Heisman chances.
5. Leonard Fournette, LSU RB
Rounding the top five is another young, explosive runner. As a true freshman in 2014, Fournette ran for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns. His numbers will be better this year as he becomes the workhorse for the Tigers, who are still trying to find consistent pieces to round out the offense.