The Only 23 College Football Players That Can Win the 2018 Heisman Trophy

23. N’Keal Harry — WR — Arizona State


The list of receivers to take home the Heisman Trophy is slim. Desmond Howard won in 1991, but that was in part due to this contributions in the return game. Four years prior, Notre Dame’s Tim Brown narrowly defeated Syracuse QB Don McPherson for the award. Before that, you’d have to go back to 1972 and RB/WR-hybrid Johnny Rodgers to find the last wide-out that claimed the award. History isn’t in the favor of receivers.

While the group of top wide-outs is a bit thin this season, Harry stands out as the player with the best chance to have a historic season. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Sun Devil is a physical specimen that exhibits inhuman elusiveness for a man his size. Once Harry’s college career is over, he’ll be featured on Sundays for years to come.

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22. Shea Patterson — QB — Michigan


The former 5-star recruit has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start in his collegiate career, but looks to bounce back in a new program. Patterson followed the allure of Jim Harbaugh and the Maize & Blue. It remains to be seen if that decision was the best option for Patterson.

Patterson has all the talent to be one of the top passers in the nation. While he lacks prototypical size, Patterson has the arm strength, athleticism, and moxie of a top-flight QB. It will be up to Harbaugh (a perceived ‘QB guru’) to unlock Patterson’s full potential.

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21. Drew Lock — QB — Missouri


Lock arguably has the best arm in college football. Mizzou’s QB can make every throw, and has arm strength reminiscent of former Wyoming Cowboy and current Buffalo Bill Josh Allen.

Last season was a breakout year for Lock. In 13 games, Lock led the SEC in passing yards (3,964), touchdowns (44), and yards per attempt (9.5). While he needs to cut down the turnovers (31 interceptions in 38 games), Lock has the stuff to make some noise in a stacked conference. Wins (or at least close contests) against Alabama or Georgia would make his candidacy undeniable.

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20. Myles Gaskin — RB — Washington


The Huskies will be in the race for the College Football Playoff all year long, making it likely that at least one of their players will be in the Heisman race. While QB Jake Browning will be a popular pick, it’s actually his partner in the backfield that could make the strongest case.

Gaskin has been a pillar of consistency since going to Seattle. There has been minimal fluctuation in Gaskin’s rushing totals over the years. As a freshman, Gaskin ran for 1,302 yards on 227 carries. He followed that up in his sophomore year with 1,373 yards on 237 carries. Just this past year, Washington’s tail back totaled 1,380 yards on 222 carries. You know what you’re going to get out of Gaskin, and that has been a high level of production through three seasons.

If he can match or approach his 21 touchdown total from last season, Gaskin will be considered Washington’s top weapon and the only player worthy of Heisman candidacy.

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19. Ed Oliver — DT — Houston


It’s a tough path for a defensive player to win the Heisman. The reason being that offenses can dictate where the ball goes. A dominant corner could be targeted zero times in a game if an offense chooses to avoid them. With all of the great offensive candidates putting up gaudy numbers, it’s difficult for a defender to keep up if they are lacking in the ‘counting’ stats (interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles, etc.).

Oliver’s impact on the field might not show up in the box score, but it’s felt throughout the course of a game. Houston’s defensive tackle is an absolute beast at both stopping the run and pressuring the passer. He’ll likely be the top pick in next year’s NFL Draft, regardless of where he finishes in the Heisman vote.

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18. Jarrett Stidham — QB — Auburn


While the hype around Stidham has died down a bit after a disappointing first year in Auburn, there’s still reason to believe he can put together a Heisman-worthy campaign. Playing in the SEC ensures that there will be no shortage of nationally televised games for Stidham. He’ll get a crack at the two championship finalists from last year — Georgia and Alabama. Historically speaking, playing well against the best teams bodes well for your Heisman chances. You need signature moments, and beating Alabama can provide that (just ask Johnny Manziel).

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17. Jake Fromm — QB — Georgia


Even with freshman sensation Justin Fields waiting in the wings, Fromm is in line for a big season as the Bulldogs’ signal-caller. Fromm was thrusted into the starting lineup early on as a freshman after beating out five-star recruit Jacob Eason for the job. As the team’s lead quarterback, Fromm exhibited great poise and maturity as he guided the Bulldogs to a 13-win season.

Fromm does all the right things as a QB — protects the ball, gets his playmakers into space, and controls the tempo of the game. His strong performance in last year’s title game proved that Fromm isn’t going to shy away from the big moment. He’s plenty capable, and will be playing with a chip on his shoulder due to Fields’ presence.

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16. D’Andre Swift — RB — Georgia


If you were looking for a vote of confidence to believe in Swift, look no further than his head coach, Kirby Smart. Even with eventual NFL draft picks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel on the roster, Smart trusted Swift to take crucial snaps in last year’s National Championship game. That experience will prove to be invaluable for the rest of Swift’s career, as he looks to etch his name alongside other great Georgia backs such as Todd Gurley and Knowshon Moreno.

With Michel and Chubb now in the NFL, Swift has the chance to flash his full array of talents. The Philly native is supremely talented and highly entertaining — a combo that is necessary for any player that wants a chance at taking home the Heisman Trophy.

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15. JK Dobbins — RB — Ohio State


The first of three Buckeyes to appear on this list, Dobbins shouldn’t be overlooked on a stacked Ohio State roster. The punishing runner actually entered the year with the best odds of any player (per Vegas) to win the Heisman Trophy at 6-to-1. While we don’t have quite that much faith in Dobbins, he surely will be in the discussion for the award due to his immense potential and big play ability.

The Buckeyes are loaded with options at the running back position, but Dobbins stands out as the top talent and the clear-cut No. 1 back. He’s got a chance to etch his name alongside Eddie George and all the other great Buckeyes that have received the award.

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14. Kelly Bryant — QB — Clemson


It wasn’t going to be easy replacing Deshaun Watson, but Bryant did an admirable job as Clemson’s signal-caller in 2017. After attempting just 18 passes in the two seasons prior, Bryant threw for 2,802 passing yards and completed 65.8 percent of his passes. As a rusher, Bryant exploded for 665 yards on the ground and added an additional 11 touchdowns.

Bryant’s ability to blend the gaudy rushing totals with efficient passing will be key to his résumé. The Tigers will be one of the nation’s best teams yet again, ensuring that Bryant will be in the spotlight for much of the season. However, before he can beat out the other candidates, Bryant will have to fend off a teammate for the starting job…

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13. Trevor Lawrence — QB — Clemson


Meet the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruit. Lawrence has all the tools to become an elite quarterback. The 6-foot-6 Georgia native is profoundly polished, impressively athletic, and has a cannon for an arm. Lawrence turned down offers from Alabama, Michigan, LSU, Miami, Florida State, and in-state option Georgia to sign on with Dabo Swinney and the Tigers. That means he sees something in this program, and is in line to inherit the keys to the car sooner rather than later.

Swinney will likely lean on experience early in the season, but if Bryant slips up, Clemson’s head coach won’t hesitate to throw Lawrence into the fray. Lawrence makes better reads than Bryant, and is more apt at driving the ball down the field. While Bryant possesses a higher floor, Lawrence has a limitless ceiling.

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12. Dwayne Haskins — QB — Ohio State


The Buckeyes have been set at quarterback for the better part of the past decade. Going from Terrelle Pryor, to Braxton Miller, to Cardale Jones, to JT Barrett is a transition that countless teams would love to endure. With Barrett graduating after last season, Ohio State entered the Spring with a group of talented gunslingers that were worthy of the position. Haskins won out, and in turn placed himself in the spotlight for one of the most revered programs in all of college football.

Haskins is a bit of an unconventional pick to start at QB when comparing his skill-set to former Ohio State signal-callers. While Haskins is capable of moving the chains with his legs, he prefers to burn teams through the air. He throws a nice deep ball, and is the most accurate thrower on the team. He’ll have plenty of weapons at his disposal, and could be in store for a big sophomore campaign.

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11. McKenzie Milton — QB — Central Florida


Milton was a revelation last season for UCF. After earning the starting job as a freshman in 2016, Milton exploded as a sophomore to the tune of 37 touchdowns and 4,037 passing yards with an average of 10.2 yards per attempt. The 5-foot-11 flamethrower also has the wheels to extend plays, accruing 771 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns over his two-year career thus far.

Although UCF wasn’t able to defend their undefeated record in the 2017 College Football Playoff, the Golden Knights enter the season as one of the most well-rounded programs in the nation. With a chip firmly placed on the team’s collective shoulders, Milton enters his junior year looking to guide his squad to an undefeated season for the second consecutive year.

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10. Justin Herbert — QB — Oregon


Herbert’s impact on Oregon’s win/loss total cannot be understated. Before the loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Ducks were 6-1 in games that Herbert started, and 1-4 in games he sat due to injury. In Herbert’s seven regular season starts last year, Oregon’s point totals were: 77, 42, 49, 35, 45, 48, and 69. A Herbert-led Oregon offense won’t struggle to score points. In an effort to bolster his NFL stock, Herbert will be placed at the front and center of Oregon’s explosive attack. Points equate to touchdowns, and if Herbert can put up 45+ scores, he could join Marcus Mariota as the only Ducks to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

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9. Rodney Anderson — RB — Oklahoma


Oklahoma has a strong tradition of elite running backs that have come through Norman. A few decades ago, Billy Sims, Steve Owens, and Billy Vessels all took home the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners’ primary rushers. Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray carved out impressive NFL careers after running for Oklahoma. Just in the past few years, Oklahoma has produced two NFL starting caliber backs in Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Anderson is poised to be next in line.

Anderson is a threat from everywhere on the field. He’s got good size at 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, exhibits quick burst in small spaces, has a nose for the end zone, and can run routes as well as any back in the country. With former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield now in the NFL, the Sooners could adopt more of a run-heavy approach to accommodate their Preseason All-Conference tail back.

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8. Kyler Murray — QB — Oklahoma


Murray is a magician in the backfield, evading pass rushers with effortless quickness and agility. He makes up for his small stature (5-foot-11) by having a strong arm and the ability to extend and create plays with his legs. Murray has the right amount of ‘it’ factor to matter on the national scale, and playing at Oklahoma will put him under a major microscope.

The college football world appreciates the Oakland A’s leniency in allowing Murray to play for the Sooners this season. Back in June, the A’s selected Murray in the first round (ninth overall) of the MLB Draft. Murray could have instantly turned pro, but Oakland allowed Murray to accept their contract offer and still return to Oklahoma for one more season. He’s committed to his team, and committed to making Oklahoma a winner again.

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7. Jonathan Taylor — RB — Wisconsin


The Badgers seem to always feature a gifted back, and Taylor is no different. The Jersey native hit the ground running as a freshman for the Badgers. Taylor led all freshman in rushing yards (1,977), and was second in attempts (299). He got stronger as the season wore on, putting up a 249-yard performance at Nebraska, and followed up with a 219-yard game against Purdue. The lone team that stifled Taylor was Ohio State (15 carries for 41 yards), though Wisconsin looks to fare far better against their bitter rival in 2018.

Taylor will have no shortage of touches in Wisconsin’s run-heavy offense. He’ll have to lead the nation in rushing yards (and attempts) to have a chance, and that’s completely in the realm of possibility given his talent and perceived work load.

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6. Trace McSorley — QB — Penn State


The diminutive McSorley plays far bigger than his 6-foot frame would suggest. In two years as Penn State’s starter, McSorely has thrown for a monstrous 7,184 yards and 57 touchdowns. The Nittany Lions have won 22 games over the past two years, including victories over Washington, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Had it not been for the brilliance of Sam Darnold, McSorley would have led Penn State to its second ever Rose Bowl victory back in 2016. McSorley is a gamer that will make sure his team is competitive each and every week.

Saquon Barkley’s absence will only further help McSorley’s case. It’s now unquestionably McSorley’s team, and Penn State’s success hinges completely on his production.

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5. Nick Bosa — DE — Ohio State


The Bosa family has a knack for producing menacing pass rushers. Much like older brother Joey, Nick is a freakish athlete that is primed to wreak havoc in the NFL someday soon. Following a 16-sack campaign from a year ago, Bosa was named a Preseason All-American and is already a favorite to take home the Bednarik Award (given to the best defensive player).

Bosa’s explosiveness and pedigree will give him a strong case throughout the year. If he can rack up 20 sacks — or force a ton of turnovers — Bosa could become the first defensive player to win the Heisman since Michigan DB Charles Woodson.

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4. Khalil Tate — QB — Arizona


Tate’s breakout 2017 would have been well worth Heisman consideration had he been the starter from the beginning of the season. The nation’s most dynamic QB returns, and looks to keep defensive coordinators up at night with his ability to make utterly miraculous plays with his legs.

Tate’s candidacy hinges on his rushing totals. Last season, the Zona QB accrued 1,411 yards on the ground. That total was good enough for 17th in the nation, and he didn’t even get the starting job until Week 5. Thanks, Rich Rod.

New Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin won’t wait quite as long to unleash Tate. While the Wildcats don’t appear to be a national threat, Tate’s combined passing and rushing totals could potentially exceed Lamar Jackson’s from two years ago — instantly making Tate a contender for the award.

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3. Will Grier — QB — West Virginia


Everybody loves points, and few teams score more effortlessly than the Mountaineers. Grier is the ringleader for West Virginia. The former Florida Gator possesses a modern skill-set that translates well in today’s college football landscape. While he’s capable of taking snaps under center, Grier flourishes in shotgun formations with space around him. He’s shown great accuracy, decision making, and touch during his two years in Morgantown (34 touchdowns in 10 games played in 2017), and is the key to WVU making a push for the College Football Playoff.

Grier has the talent, weapons, and national exposure to take the college football world by storm — much like Baker Mayfield did last season.

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2. Bryce Love — RB — Stanford


It came as a bit of a surprise when Love announced his intent to stay in school for his senior season. A likely first-round pick, Love left millions on the table to return to Stanford. While Love cites finishing his degree as one of the main reasons for staying, it can be assumed that the talented rusher also doesn’t mind getting another crack at winning the Heisman Trophy.

Love had as strong of a case as any player in the nation to win the award last season. Taking over for top-10 pick Christian McCaffrey, Love flourished as Stanford’s bell cow. The Stanford back scooted for 2,118 rushing yards (on 8.1 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns. If Love approaches that stat-line this season, he’ll be a surefire finalist.

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1. Tua Tagovailoa — QB — Alabama


The hero of the 2018 National Championship game enters the season as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy. Given Tagovailoa’s tremendous skill and knack for highlight plays, he will be in the forefront of all conversation considering he’s the quarterback for likely the best team in the nation. However, there’s one dark horse that could dramatically affect Tua’s candidacy — Jalen Hurts.

Hurts remains on the roster despite rumors that he would be transferring. Saban has yet to commit to one QB or the other, implying that Hurts could see some snaps as the team’s signal-caller. With Hurts in the fray, Tua’s overall numbers could potentially take a drastic hit.

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