The college football season starts in September, but it's never too early to preview the Heisman Trophy race. Here’s a look at some names to watch for the 2018 Heisman, given annually to the most outstanding player in college football.
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford, Senior
Love finished second in last season's Heisman voting after rushing for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns. He averaged 8 yards per carry - fourth-best in the FBS - and rushed for 100 yards in 13 of 14 games. He was coming off an ankle injury in the one game he didn't.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin, Sophomore
Taylor was a key cog in the Badgers' offense, rushing for an FBS freshman-record 1,977 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. He had three games with more than 200 rushing yards and 10 with more than 100 yards.
Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona, Junior
We've seen dual threats such as Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel run away with the Heisman in the past. Tate could be that guy this season. The junior had nearly as many rushing yards (1,411) as he did passing (1,591), including a 327-yard, four-touchdown outburst against Colorado. He'll need to improve as a passer (14 touchdowns, nine interceptions), but his highlight-reel plays could keep him in contention.
Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia, Sophomore
Fromm took over as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback in Week 1 after an injury to Jacob Eason, and 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns later, he's the top returning offensive player on a Georgia team that eyes a return to the national title game.
Jalen Hurts (Junior) OR Tua Tagovailoa (Sophomore), QB, Alabama
This depends on who's named the starter for Alabama (or if Hurts transfers, as has been rumored all offseason). Hurts has a 26-2 career record in two seasons but was replaced at halftime in last season's national title game by Tagovailoa, who sparked the Crimson Tide's championship-winning comeback. Either way, the quarterback position at Alabama always is a subject of national attention.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma, Junior
After transferring from Texas A&M and sitting behind Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, Murray steps in on an Oklahoma team that was just a few plays away from making the national title game. Murray is more athletic than Mayfield. He reportedly was clocked at a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash and was the ninth overall pick in June's MLB draft by the Oakland A's.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State, Sophomore
Dobbins replaced an injured Mike Weber in Week 1 and immediately made his presence felt with 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He finished with 1,403 yards - the most ever by an Ohio State freshman - and seven scores while averaging 7.2 yards per carry (seventh-best in the FBS).
Kelly Bryant (Senior) OR Trevor Lawrence (Freshman), QB, Clemson
Bryant (pictured) was solid last season as Deshaun Watson's replacement, throwing for 2,802 yards and rushing for 665 for the 12-2 Tigers. But there usually is one freshman every year who bursts onto the scene, and Lawrence -- a highly touted recruit -- could push for the starting job right away. Whoever lands the job finds himself in an ideal situation with a team that likely will be in the mix for a playoff spot.
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan, Junior
Patterson was granted immediate eligibility after transferring from Ole Miss, so he'll get a chance to work with Jim Harbaugh right away. Patterson threw for 300 or more yards in five of seven games for the Rebels before tearing his PCL in late October.
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn, Junior
Stidham impressed in his first season at Auburn after transferring from Baylor, throwing for 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions in 14 games. He struggled in most of Auburn's losses, though. He was held below 165 yards in three of the Tigers' four losses.Against UCF in the Peach Bowl, he had two interceptions against just one touchdown (though he did have 331 yards in that game).
Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State, Senior
Saquon Barkley received all the Heisman hype last season, but this season could be McSorley's time to shine. McSorley threw for 3,570 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 13 games last year after throwing for 3,614 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2016. He'll get more of the spotlight with Barkley, Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton gone.
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri, Senior
If you're looking purely at stats, not many players were better than Lock last season. His 44 passing touchdowns and 16.3 yards per completion were tops in the FBS, and his 3,964 passing yards were 10th best. But the Heisman is more than just stats - team success is important, too, and Missouri will need to improve on its 7-6 record for Lock to be a true contender.
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia, Senior
Grier returns to Dana Holgorsen's high-flying offense along with top receiver David Sills V, who could get a few Heisman votes in his own right. The former Florida transfer threw for 3,490 yards, 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 11 games. But West Virginia was 7-6 last year, so like Lock at Missouri, Grier will need the rest of his team to help him out.
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State, Sophomore
Akers became the focal point of Florida State's offense after star quarterback Deondre Francois was lost for the season in the first game of the year. He broke the Seminoles' freshman rushing record in 2017 with 1,025 yards and seven touchdowns. An encore performance is possible, but Florida State will have to better its 7-6 record for Akers to be in the Heisman conversation.