+-
Lamar Jackson of the Louisville Cardinals throws the (Credit: Getty Images / Andy Lyons)

Lamar Jackson of the Louisville Cardinals throws the ball against the Florida State Seminoles at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Sept. 17, 2016 in Louisville, Ky.

Heisman Trophy watch 2016

The first month of college football is nearly in the books, which means the race for the Heisman Trophy is underway. Here is a look at some of the possible early contenders for the 2016 Heisman, given annually to college football's most outstanding player.

1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville, Soph.

Even Michael Vick couldn't help but be in
(Credit: Getty Images / Andy Lyons)

Even Michael Vick couldn't help but be in awe of how great Lamar Jackson has played so far this season. The former Pro Bowl quarterback tweeted that Louisville's sophomore signal-caller is "5x better than what I was at V-Tech....Enough said!!" It's hard to argue that after Jackson accounted for five more touchdowns (four rushing) and totaled 362 yards (216 passing, 146 rushing) to lead the Cardinals' destruction of No. 2 Florida State. Jackson has 913 passing yards, eight passing touchdowns, 960 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns through three games entering Saturday's showdown at Marshall. Last week: 2

2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford, Jr.

Christian McCaffrey was his usual versatile self in
(Credit: Getty Images / Thearon W. Henderson)

Christian McCaffrey was his usual versatile self in Stanford's 27-10 win over Pac-12 rival USC, racking up 260 all-purpose yards and had a receiving and a rushing touchdown. The junior has 470 all-purpose yards (298 rushing, 106 receiving, 16 punt return, 50 kick return) through two games. The Cardinal play at UCLA on Saturday night. Last week: 1

3. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State, Jr.

J.T. Barrett had a nice night in Ohio
(Credit: Getty Images / Scott Halleran)

J.T. Barrett had a nice night in Ohio State's primetime win at Oklahoma, even if he didn't put up a ton of yardage. The junior completed 14 of 20 passes for 152 yards, but his four touchdowns - including a circus-catch TD by Noah Brown - propelled the Buckeyes. And he added 74 rushing yards on 17 carries. Barrett has thrown for 650 yards, 10 touchdowns and an interception and rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns in three games. Ohio State hosts Rutgers on Oct. 1. Last week: 3

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE

4. Greg Ward Jr, QB, Houston, Sr.

Greg Ward Jr. came back from a shoulder
(Credit: Getty Images / Joe Robbins)

Greg Ward Jr. came back from a shoulder injury as Houston topped Cincinnati. The senior threw for 326 yards and a touchdown on 24 of 36 passing, but he did toss two interceptions. He made up for his so-so game through the air by finishing as the Cougars' leading rusher with 26 carries for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Ward Jr. will look to add to his 647 passing yards and three passing touchdowns on Saturday at Texas State. Last week: 5

5. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State, Sr.

Not too many people had heard of Donnel
(Credit: Getty Images / Sean M. Haffey)

Not too many people had heard of Donnel Pumphrey before this past weekend, but the San Diego State senior has made his case for a spot on the Heisman watch over the past two weeks. Pumphrey rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns against Northern Illinois. It was Pumphrey's second straight game with at least 200 rushing yards - he had 281 and three touchdowns against Cal on Sept. 10. The Aztecs tailback has 599 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through three games. San Diego State hosts South Alabama on Oct. 1. Last week: Not ranked

6. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson, Jr.

Deshaun Watson and Clemson's offense desperately needed to
(Credit: Getty Images / Tyler Smith)

Deshaun Watson and Clemson's offense desperately needed to get back on track after inconsistent games against Auburn and Troy. They did just that in a 59-0 rout of FCS South Carolina State. The junior only played about 17 minutes, throwing for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 12 of 15 passing. Watson has thrown for 692 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in three games. He'll have the stage to himself on Thursday night at Georgia Tech. Last week: 6

7. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia, Jr.

After rushing for at least 100 yards in
(Credit: AP / L.G. Patterson)

After rushing for at least 100 yards in 14 straight games, Nick Chubb finds himself on a less desirable kind of streak. His 63 rushing yards on 19 carries against Missouri marked the second straight game that the junior failed to crack the century mark. He has 365 rush yards and three scores through three games, though 222 of those yards came in Georgia's season opener. It doesn't get much easier for Chubb, who goes up against Ole Miss in Oxford. Last week: 4

8. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, Jr.

Leonard Fournette returned from an ankle injury and
(Credit: AP / Gerald Herbert)

Leonard Fournette returned from an ankle injury and looked like his old self against Mississippi State. The bruising junior rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries in LSU's 23-20 win, trucking and stiff-arming through defenders with ease. Fournette has 285 rushing yards and two touchdowns in two games as the Tigers play at Auburn. Last week: 10

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE

9. Jabrill Peppers, LB/DB, Michigan, Jr.

That's not a typo up there - Jabrill
(Credit: AP / Tony Ding)

That's not a typo up there - Jabrill Peppers is a defensive player. So why is he on a watch list for an award that primarily goes to running backs and quarterbacks? Because he's done much more than just play defense. Against Colorado on Saturday, Peppers had nine tackles (with 3 1/2 of them for a loss), a sack and 204 all-purpose yards - 180 return yards, including a 54-yard punt return touchdown, and two carries at running back for 24 yards). He leads the country with 9 1/2 tackles for loss and 173 punt return yards through three games. It may be a little early to start the Charles Woodson comparisons, but if Peppers keeps playing at such a dynamic level on both defense and special teams, they could happen sooner than later. Last week: Not ranked

10. DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame, Jr.

Just like in Week 1, DeShone Kizer had
(Credit: Getty Images / Stacy Revere)

Just like in Week 1, DeShone Kizer had good numbers in a Notre Dame loss. The junior threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more scores, but it wasn't enough in the Irish's 36-28 loss to Michigan State. Kizer has thrown for 715 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for 126 yards and four scores through three games. It'll be tough for him to win now that Notre Dame has two losses, but his stats in those losses keep him in the conversation. Notre Dame hosts Duke. Last week: 8

11. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech, Jr.

Every year, there's one Big 12 quarterback who
(Credit: Getty Images / John Weast)

Every year, there's one Big 12 quarterback who puts up eye-popping numbers early in the season. Patrick Mahomes is that guy this year. The Texas Tech junior has thrown for 1,493 yards and 14 touchdowns through three games, including 470 yards and five touchdowns against Louisiana Tech this past weekend. He's also a threat on the ground -- his 37 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs give him 138 yards and three scores for the season. The Red Raiders' Air Raid offense does detract a little from Mahomes' numbers, but he's still off to a strong start and could see some Heisman attention if he keeps it up. Last week: Not ranked

Dropped out

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 17: Deondre Francois #12
(Credit: Getty Images / Bobby Ellis)

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 17: Deondre Francois #12 of the Florida State Seminoles reacts on the bench during the fourth quarter of the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

Subscribe to Newsday’s sports newsletter

Receive stories, photos and videos about your favorite New York teams plus national sports news and events.

Related Media

Notre Dame wide receiver Tim Brown. Heisman Trophy winners Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper moves against Auburn Can a receiver ever win the Heisman again? Tennessee wide receiver Josh Malone watches the ball College football games to watch this week

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.