This year features a ton of impact players returning on the offensive end in college football. Two of the three Heisman finalists from last year are returning and three other players who were in the mix the entire year will also be suiting up for another season at their respective schools. Looking at the crop of guys this year it’s safe to say it will be a highly debated conversation throughout the season. While those discussions are still months away I wanted to look at some of the early front runners.
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
2015 stats: 3,512 Pass Yds., 30 Pass TD, 887 Rush Yds., 11 Rush TD
Watson returns 8 starters from the offense that made last season so special for the Tigers. As a junior look for Watson to put up even more eye-popping stats. His ability to be lethal from within the pocket and also be an exceptional playmaker on the run gives him a unique edge that few players possess. In my book, he’s the odds on favorite heading into the season.
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
2015 stats: 1,953 Rush Yds., 22 Rush TD, 19 Rec., 253 Rec. Yds., 1 Rec. TD
A likely top five pick in next year’s draft, Fournette has been a Heisman candidate since the moment he stepped on campus at LSU. He has surely lived up to the hype coming out of high school and has delivered time and time again for the Tigers. The one hurdle he has yet to leap is Alabama. Last season he tallied a dismal 31 yards on 19 attempts which all but ended his Heisman hopes. If he is able to come out of that game with a great performance then he will find himself in New York come season’s end.
RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
2015 stats: 1,847 Rush Yds., 8 Rush TD, 41 Rec., 540 Rec. Yds., 4 Rec. TD, 1,042 KR Yds.
Last year Christian McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ 27 year old single-season all-purpose yardage record. As a sophomore he broke onto the scene and made exciting plays reminiscent of USC star Reggie Bush. The only reason I believe it will be tough for him to win the Heisman is because there really isn’t much more he can do that he didn’t last season. Even with that in mind; McCaffery is as explosive as any player in college football and I wouldn’t be surprised if he one-ups last years campaign.
QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
2015 stats: 3,700 Pass Yds., 36 Pass TD, 405 Rush Yds., 7 Rush TD
Last season, walk-on turned superstar Baker Mayfield often showcased a skill set comparable to Johnny Manziel. (speaking of which, is anybody going to get Johnny some help?) Mayfield brings a swagger to the field that is unmatched. He has a dynamic set of backs behind him which will allow him to have a lot of space to work. If it’s even possible to imagine; look for Mayfield to have even more freedom this season in his Oklahoma offense. A second year in the system will only make him more efficient. (which I know Mando will love)
RB Dalvin Cook, FSU
2015 stats: 1,691 Rush Yds., 19 Rush TD, 24 Rec., 244 Rec. Yds., 1 Rec. TD
It’s as simple as this for FSU this season. Feed Cook the rock. The entire offense is returning which leaves them with an experienced offensive line and an elite running back. However, the quarterback situation is still up in the air, so for the Seminoles to be successful this season they must lean on Cook. He will likely have the heaviest workload in the country, but if Cook can stay healthy he will put up huge numbers.
QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
2015 stats: 2,884 Pass Yds., 21 Pass TD, 520 Rush Yds., 10 Rush TD
I know, I know, he hasn’t even been named the starter yet, but my inside sources (me, myself, and I) are pretty confident he will be. From the moment Kizer was thrust into the starting spot last season he has shown he can play at the highest level of college football. With an injury plagued team he led them within 2 plays of an undefeated season. Kizer is not afraid of the moment and with another year under his belt I see him having a huge season in South Bend. He’s my dark horse candidate coming into the season. You heard it here first!!