To say this season of college football has been a weird and wacky one would be a massive understatement. The COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc on the entire college football season, with teams playing anywhere from four to 12 games on the season. To understand that to the fullest, you must look no further than the AP Top-25 list as both Alabama and Notre Dame have 10 games under their belts and will be featured in their conference championship. Third-ranked Ohio State will have played just five games this season – pending a conference title game (still TBD) and still has a shot at making the College Football Playoff. I won’t be getting into that debate in this piece, but what I will be doing is praising the players for overcoming this weird, unprecedented season and providing us with entertainment for nearly four months. There are a handful of players that deserve a little more attention than others, and we start in Tuscaloosa with a pair of Alabama teammates that have been torturing opposing defenses all year long. Quarterback Mac Jones and his go-to receiver, DeVonta Smith, are one-two in the Heisman race, with Florida’s Kyle Trask right behind them.
Mac Jones, Quarterback, Alabama Crimson Tide
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that an Alabama player is currently the front-runner for the Heisman. Alabama has been nothing but a juggernaut over the last decade, churning out NFL player after NFL player en route to winning National Championship after National Championship. This year, Jones was given the keys to the Ferrari, and he has not disappointed. Jones has his Crimson Tide sitting pretty at 10-0, en-route to a conference title and a spot in the CFP. Jones has thrown for 3,321 yards this season to go with 27 touchdowns and just three interceptions, for what is the third-highest scoring program in the nation. Jones has been relatively hot over the last little while, tossing nine touchdowns over his last 3 games and 15 over his last five. Jones has plenty of offensive weapons to help his case, and we don’t see how he relinquishes the Heisman lead this late in the season.
The Contender: DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver, Alabama Crimson Tide
As for Smith, it’s going to take something crazy for him to overtake his teammate, especially considering the Heisman is typically a quarterback award. Smith is going to need to go off for 200+ yards and a bunch of scores in his remaining games in order to have a sniff at the award. It’s possible if you look at Smith’s recent stat lines. He’s topped 200 yards twice over the last five games and topped more than 144 yards in four of the last five. He’s also notched a total of 15 touchdowns this season, with 11 of those coming in his last five contests. If the Heisman is really an MVP award, Smith should get serious consideration as he stepped up for his team in a big way after the team lost Jaylen Waddle early in the year.
Kyle Trask, Quarterback, Florida Gators
Another player that’s been the most valuable player to his team is Kyle Trask. Trask has shot to the spotlight this season after putting together a very impressive regular season. Trask leads the nation with 40 passing touchdowns – which is 10 more than second place – and has tossed just five interceptions all season long. He’s also thrown for just five interceptions and has the most passing yards in the country with 3,717. He tends to do his great work in bunches as he has thrown at least four touchdowns in all seven of his team’s 10 games this season. That’s an impressive resume. And if it weren’t for the Alabama duo above him, Trask would be an overwhelming favorite at this stage in the game. So, what’s been his undoing? Well, Trask simply couldn’t beat the teams he should have beaten. A loss to Texas A&M is excusable, but a loss to LSU is not. He did his part in both games. However, in a sport where the season is extremely short and wins are of the utmost importance, Trask’s slip down the Heisman board is justified based on results.
Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson
It’s hard to put into words what Trevor Lawrence has done during his time at Clemson. He has just one college loss to his name and has led the Tigers to two National Championship games, winning it as a true freshman and falling last year to LSU. In a normal year, Lawrence would have been atop this board, or close to the top. Instead, COVID struck and knocked Lawrence out for two games. If history is any indication, the only player to win the Heisman while missing games was Charlie Ward in 1993 (missed one) and Charles White in 1979 (missed two). It’s unfortunate that we’ll see the likely No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft end his college career on a wonky note thanks to a global pandemic. However, Lawrence’s value to the Clemson Tigers is unmatched, and we should appreciate all that he’s done for the ACC and college football in general.