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Dave Syvertsen, Ourlads Senior Draft Analyst
09/18/2020 1:50PM ET

1 – Tua Tagovailoa – QB/Alabama

The first real sign of adversity hit #1 ranked Alabama in Atlanta during the SEC Championship game against Georgia.  While the Crimson Tide passed their final test prior to entering the College Playoffs, Tagovailoa was not the reason.  He has struggled with a balky knee all year, but his ankle was tweaked on a couple of occasions in this game.  It was enough to put him on the sideline during the middle of their comeback.   Prior to leaving the game, he put out by far the worst performance of his sophomore season.  He went 10/25 with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.  While you hate to see the last game of the season prior to the hardware being handed out, Tagovailoa’s big picture keeps him atop the list. 

2 – Kyler Murray – QB/Oklahoma

On October 6, Murray and the Sooners suffered their lone loss of the 2018 season against Texas.  Murray scored 5 touchdowns and gained a total of 396 yards on the day, but it wasn’t enough.  They got their shot at a rematch and came away with a convincing 39-27 win.  Murray, once again, led the way with over 400 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns and did his best to make one last effort that he is the one player in the nation that can take this award away from Tagovailoa.  He shares the FBS touchdown lead and his 4,944 total yards easily led the nation.  Murray’s story is unique; as he will be in Major League Baseball Spring Training this upcoming winter after being selected in the 1st round by the Oakland A’s.  The kind of year he put together was enough to give him serious Heisman consideration and a strong backup plan should things not work out on the diamond.

3 – Dwayne Haskins – QB/Ohio State

Haskins ended the year white-hot and will likely end up in third place among voters.  They won the Big 10 Championship by a score of 45-24 fueled by his third straight game of 395+ yards and 5+ total touchdowns.  In what has been a very odd year for the Buckeyes that saw more headlines off the field than on it, Haskins stabilized the situation as best as one could with his play.  He ends up tied for the national touchdown lead while leading the nation in passing yards.  While his game is not as versatile or dynamic as the two names above him, his arm talent may be the best. 

4 – Travis Etienne – RB/Clemson

While the three quarterbacks will finish with the vast majority of the votes, Etienne finishes the season as the top player on the list that doesn’t play under center.  The most explosive talent on the #2 team in the country that loves to spread the ball out will be back in 2019 and will be one of the leading preseason candidates for the award.  He rushed for 156 yards on 12 carries while crossing the goal line twice, giving him 22 on the year which led the Power 5 conference skill position players.  If Etienne can add a stronger receiving repertoire to his package, he will be one of the frontrunners for the award heading in to 2019.

5 – Darrell Henderson – RB/Memphis

While it takes a monumental season-long performance from a non-power 5 player to get serious Heisman contention, Henderson has been hovering around the bottom of this list and his AAC Championship performance put him over the hump.  He eclipsed the 200-yard mark for the third time this season and it took him just 16 carries to do so.  He finished the season averaging just under 9 yards per carry, tops in the nation by backs with over 125 carries.  He also led the nation’s skill position players with 25 touchdowns and rushes over 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards.  The big play back may have played against lesser competition, but this kind of year deserves attention.