Heisman Trophy watch 2015
The college football season begins in September, but it's never too early to talk Heisman Trophy. Here is a look at some preseason contenders for the 2015 Heisman, given annually to college football's most oustanding player.
TREVONE BOYKIN, QB, TCU(Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka)
Trevone Boykin finished fourth in Heisman voting for 2014, impressing voters with both his arm (3,901 passing yards, 33 TDs, 10 INTs) and his legs (152 carries, 707 yards, eight TDs). He'll be back to lead TCU's high-flying spread attack, and with the Horned Frogs' 93rd-ranked strength of schedule, Boykin should put up big numbers once again.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, Junior, RB, Ohio State(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox)
Ezekiel Elliott cemented his spot on the 2015 Heisman Trophy watch list with three straight 200-yard rushing games to close out the season, including 246 yards and four TDs in the national championship game against Oregon. The junior tailback who sported the old-school crop top jersey look in 2014 is the nation's top running back entering the season.
CARDALE JONES / J.T. BARRETT / BRAXTON MILLER, QB, Ohio State(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox, Jamie Sabau)
The biggest question in college football right now: Who will start at quarterback for the defending champion Buckeyes? Will it be Cardale Jones, the junior who started the final three games of the 2014 season and put up some nice numbers in the process (860 yards, seven TDs, two INTs)? Will it be J.T. Barrett, who was a serious Heisman contender last season as a freshman (2,834 passing yards, 34 TDs, 10 INTs; 938 rushing yards, 11 TDs) before a broken ankle ended his season? Or could it be fifth-year senior Braxton Miller, a 2014 preseason Heisman favorite who missed all of last season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder? Urban Meyer has yet to name a starter, but whoever gets the nod immediately vaults into serious Heisman consideration.
NICK CHUBB, Sophomore, RB, Georgia(Credit: Getty Images / Grant Halverson)
Georgia turned to Nick Chubb last season to hold down the team's rushing attack after star running back Todd Gurley was suspended for four games for taking money in exchange for autographs (and then again after Gurley tore his ACL in his first game back from suspension). Chubb rushed for at least 110 yards and a touchdown in each of his eight starts. He also had two 200-yard games. The sophomore is a tough runner who will be counted on to replicate his 2014 success.
DAK PRESCOTT, Senior, QB, MIssissippi State(Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka)
Dak Prescott was a Heisman favorite midway through last season after leading Mississippi State to a 9-1 record and the No. 1 spot in both the AP poll and the College Football Playoff rankings. But the Bulldogs ended the season on a 1-3 slide, which hurt Prescott's Heisman chances. The senior returns for 2015, and his success last season (3,449 passing yards, 27 TDs, 11 INTs; 986 rushing yards, 14 TDs) should bode well for this year's candidacy.
DESHAUN WATSON, Sophomore, QB, Clemson(Credit: Getty Images / Ronald Martinez)
Deshaun Watson is somewhat of a wild card in the 2015 Heisman conversation. When the dual-threat quarterback was healthy in 2014, he put up very impressive numbers for Clemson (1,466 passing yards, 14 TDs, two INTs; 200 rushing yards, five TDs). The keyword here: "healthy." Watson started just five games last season due to a slew of injuries, including a season-ending torn ACL in November. If the sophomore can show his knee injury is in the rearview mirror, he could garner some major Heisman momentum.
CODY KESSLER, Senior, QB, USC(Credit: Getty Images / Donald Miralle)
Cody Kessler had a breakout season in 2014, throwing for 3,826 yards and 39 touchdowns against five interceptions under new head coach Steve Sarkisian and his up-tempo offense. Even though top target Nelson Agholor left for the NFL, the senior signal-caller should continue to put up big numbers in 2015 with another year of seasoning under his belt.
LEONARD FOURNETTE, Sophomore, RB, LSU(Credit: Getty Images / Chris Graythen)
Leonard Fournette was one of the more highly touted high school recruits in recent memory and improved as his freshman season rolled along, closing it out with two straight games with at least 140 rushing yards. Reports out of Baton Rouge are that he looked even more impressive during spring workouts, which means a breakout season for the young running back isn't out of the question.
SAMAJE PERINE, Sophomore, RB, Oklahoma(Credit: Getty Images / Brett Deering)
Samaje Perine already was having a fine freshman season in 2014, racking up two games with 200 or more yards and three or more touchdowns. That was before he set the all-time single-game rushing record with 427 yards and five touchdowns against Kansas last November. He had two more 100-plus yard games after that and finished the season with 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns. With a heavier workload expected in 2015, the sophomore should put up bigger numbers and be in the thick of the Heisman watch.
ROYCE FREEMAN, Sophomore, RB, Oregon(Credit: Getty Images / Thearon W. Henderson)
A second straight Heisman winner from Oregon? Depending on how the Ducks' coaching staff utilizes sophomore tailback Royce Freeman, it could happen. With 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota now in the NFL, Oregon's quarterback situation looks a lot murkier as six different guys battle for the starting job. That could lead to an increased workload for Freeman, who logged 1,365 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014, as the Ducks try to adjust at quarterback early in the season.
DALVIN COOK, Sophomore, RB, Florida State(Credit: Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann)
Dalvin Cook saw limited action early in 2014 as a backup behind Karlos Williams, but the running back turned it on late for Florida State with three straight 100-yard games to close out the season. Now that hes the lead back for a national title contender, he should see some Heisman buzz.
DERRICK HENRY, Junior, RB, Alabama(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox)
Alabama always seems to churn out running backs worthy of Heisman consideration. Derrick Henry is the latest one. Henry backed up T.J. Yeldon in 2014 but still put up 11 rushing touchdowns and 990 rushing yards. Henry, like many of the other running backs on this list, is expected to get more carries, and if he can help keep the perennial power Crimson Tide toward the top of the rankings, he'll be right in the mix for the Heisman.
SCOOBY WRIGHT, Junior, LB, Arizona(Credit: Getty Images / Christian Petersen)
It's rare for a defensive player to be considered a Heisman candidate, but Wright managed to garner a few second- and third-place votes in 2014 thanks to his 163 total tackles (29 for a loss), 14 sacks and six forced fumbles. If he can continue to anchor Arizona's defense in 2015, he could have an outside shot to become the first defensive player to win the award since Charles Woodson in 1997.