Far and away the most prestigious award a player can receive in college football, the Heisman has the power to change a school’s trajectory for decades to come.
- Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
After a monster sophomore season in which he accounted for 1,752 total yards and 23 touchdowns, Cyclone standout Breece Hall is easily the preseason Heisman favorite. Hall rushed for over 100 yards nine times in twelve games last year, averaging 5.6 yards per carry while also pulling in 23 receptions and 2 scores. Hall’s fluid running style combined with his elite ball carrier vision makes for a deadly combination against even the most elte defenses in Division 1. Against Oregon’s vaunted defense in the Fiesta Bowl, Hall rushed for 136 yards and 2 scores while averaging 4 yards per carry. Iowa State will be looking to push past Oklahoma and secure a playoff spot for the first time in school history, and Breece Hall will play a crucial role in the Cyclones success in 2021.
- D.J. Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson
D.J. Uiagalelei is ready to take the helm for the Tigers in his second year, and ACC defenses should be shaking in their boots. As a true freshman in 2020, Uiagalelei completed a solid 66.7% of his passes for 914 yards and 5 touchdowns. In only his second career start against Notre Dame, he completed 29 of 44 passes for over 400 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. In his short time seeing the field at Clemson, Uiagalelei has demonstrated not only elite arm talent, but also the ability to make the right play and avoid turnovers. Wideouts Justyn Ross and Joey Ngata provide the Tiger’s standout signal caller with two high level receiving threats, and the running back room of Will Shipley and Lyn-J Dixon will take the pressure off of the young quarterback’s arm. Don’t be surprised if Clemson’s Uiagalelei takes the college football world by storm and earns himself an invitation to New York this fall.
- Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Following a breakout freshman season where Howell threw for over 3,600 yards and 38 touchdowns, Howell improved in almost every statistical category his sophomore season. Entering his junior year, Howell will be looking to contend for the Heisman yet again. Although Howell will have to deal with the losses of Micheal Carter, Javonte Williams, Dyami Brown, and Dazz Newsome on offense, returners Beau Corrales (Sr.) and Josh Downs (So.) will pick up where the former star studded Tarheel quartet left off. Although Howell has struggled in the past when the pass rush gets home (38.2 passer rating against pressure as a freshman), a strong offensive line, headlined by experienced upperclassmen (three of five starters are redshirt seniors) will help mask his biggest weakness. The Tarheel star improved his passer efficiency rating from 160.2 to 179.1 between his freshman and sophomore seasons, so finishing his junior campaign with a rating north of 190 is definitely within reason. On top of good decision making and accuracy, Howell boasts maybe the best deep ball of any division 1 starter, ranking first in the Power 5 over the last two years in 20 yard completions and big time throws.
- Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Rattler was one of the most hyped quarterback prospects coming out of high school in 2019, however a tendency to play loose and turn the ball over cost the Sooners some games down the stretch. Even still, his uncanny ability to operate outside of structure makes him liable to gash a defense at any given moment. After closing last year with a PFF passer rating above 91, Rattler will be looking to improve his efficiency and continue to deliver accurate passes in bunches. We all know the recent slew of elite signal callers under head coach Lincoln Riley, but if Rattler is to live up to his Heisman expectations, he will need to learn to lean on the strong offensive line and running game Oklahoma sports this year. In a year where many see Oklahoma as a legitimate national title contender because of their improved defense, Spencer Rattler’s play will make or break this Sooners squad.
- Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Many in the college football world questioned whether or not Corral could thrive in the starting quarterback role at Ole Miss, but after a sophomore season where he tossed 29 touchdowns for a mediocre Rebels squad, many believe the ceiling is high for the Long Beach Poly product. Expect Corral to take a step forward in 2021, with NFL prospect Jerrion Ealy to take the pressure off his shoulders with a strong run game. Veteran wideout Braylon Sanders (RS Sr.) will be a savvy presence in the passing game after posting 45 receptions for 905 yards throughout his college career. Lane Kiffin’s uncanny ability to scheme up opportunities for chunk plays will only help elevate Corral’s Heisman hopes. Outside of a horrendous, interception ridden outing where he turned the ball over six times against Arkansas, Corral was elite in 2020, posting a 90.5 PFF grade for the rest of the season and ranking fifth in deep passing yards. Pairing his ability to stretch the field with the eleventh highest positively graded throw rate in the country, the Rebels may be in for a special season on offense.