2022 Heisman Candidates: To start speculating early, who should belong on the watch list for the trophy?
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Yeah, Bryce Young was on every list of 2021 preseason Heisman candidates, but Kenny Pickett? The guy who didn’t get past 13 touchdown passes in any of his first four years?
DeVonta Smith – a wide receiver? – was going to win the 202 Heisman? NO ONE came close to predicting that, and no, you and nobody else had the first clue that Joe Burrow would have one of the greatest seasons in college football history in his 2019 run.
That’s why we always start any Heisman prediction piece by going with The Field, The Field, The Field.
For every Spencer Rattler of 2021 was a Will Anderson, Kenneth Walker, or Aidan Hutchinson just waiting to pop up and into the race.
Making the 2022 Heisman race even more insane to figure out is that we really don’t know what we don’t know, because …
1. Transfers, transfers, transfers. Not only will a few guys on this list be gone to other spots by the time you’re probably done reading this, but others are going to transfer into sweet gigs with big statistical potential.
2. Draft, draft, draft. Who’s this year’s Kenny Pickett type who’ll stay in school and bet on himself? A whole slew of key players – like Georgia’s JT Daniels – aren’t on this list because we’re just assuming they’re off to the NFL. We’ll do this piece again after all the early entries are set.
3. Coaches, coaches, coaches. Really, who’s going to be Lincoln Riley’s quarterback at USC? Really, what’s Brent Venables going to do at Oklahoma? Will Miami start winging it around? Where will all the star offensive coordinators end up?
The goal is getting the early 2022 Heisman call close to the pin – last year we did have Young at 3; but cheerfully ignore 1 and 2.
2022 Heisman Candidates Watch List: Names On A List As Fliers … Just In Case
Call this the Johnny Manziel/Cam Newton//Joe Burrow/DeVonta Smith base-covering list. These all might seem crazy, but Matt Corral was in this space last year.
It’s in alphabetical order after beginning with …
Again, if someone offers you The Field, take it. Oh, there’s a 2019 Joe Burrow out there, and we have eight months before next season to find him.
QB Jaxson Dart, Soph. USC
There’s a chance this could be Kedon Slovis’s offense to fly, but there’s a better shot that new head coach Lincoln Riley ends up with Caleb Williams – more on that in a moment – or some other superstar transfer in the Baker, Kyler, Jalen mold. Dart is on this list just in case he turns out to be The Guy.
QB Quinn Ewers, Fr. Undecided
Will he be Steve Sarkisian’s guy at Texas? Will he take over at Texas Tech? More on that with the Red Raiders in a moment. No matter where he ends up, the former superstar get for Ohio State has the talent to be instantly special wherever he goes.
QB Jake Haener, Sr. Fresno State
He was in the transfer portal – the thought was that he’d be off to Washington with former Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer – and then he came back in to be new/old head man Jeff Tedford’s quarterback. This is a straight stat play after throwing for over 3,800 yards and 32 touchdowns. He might put up eye-popping numbers that blow away the 2021 stats.
QB Sam Hartman, Jr. Wake Forest
What, you think this is slowing down? For all of the love and affection given to Kenny Pickett this year in the Heisman race, Hartman was stride-for-stride statistically for stretches before the interceptions kicked in. Throw in the 11 touchdown runs with the 36 touchdown passes and close to 4,000 yards, and the stats will be there.
QB Hendon Hooker, Sr. Tennessee
Possibly the most underappreciated quarterback in college football over the lsat few years, the former Virginia Tech transfer stepped in at Tennessee – after not getting the job to start the year – and finished with 26 touchdowns passes just three interceptions, and 561 yards and five touchdown runs. He could be a super-senior and take his game up a few notches in the Josh Heupel offense.
RB Mohamed Ibrahim, Sr. Minnesota
At the very least, he might be the feel-good story of 2022 if he comes back to form after tearing his Achilles tendon in the opener against Ohio State. He was crushing the Buckeyes with 163 yards and two scores before getting hurt. If he’s his old self, he’ll be a statistical monster.
QB KJ Jefferson, Jr. Arkansas
Totally overshadowed in a division with Bryce Young, Matt Corral, and Will Rogers, all the 6-3, 245-pound Jefferson did was throw for close to 2,600 yards with 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and run for 554 yards and five scores. Now he knows what he’s doing.
QB Devin Leary, Jr. NC State
Leary didn’t air it out quite as much as some of the other ACC stars, but he’ll finally get a little bit of the spotlight after throwing for 3,433 yards and 35 touchdowns with five picks.
QB Will Rogers, Mississippi State
Did Bryce Young lead the SEC in passing? No. Did he lead the SEC in completion percentage – at least among quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes? No. Did Rogers lead the SEC in both categories, and will he likely blow up the stats in the Mike Leach offense after completing 75% of his throws for 4,451 yards and 35 touchdowns? Probably.