The undisputable guide to who will win this year’s Heisman Trophy
The media will have you believe the Heisman Trophy has always been awarded to the most outstanding performer in the National College Athletic Association’s Division 1 football subdivision. While this appears to be an eloquent description for a prestigious award, the Heisman Trophy has become less of an all-encompassing reward and more of a popularity contest in recent years.
The flashiest and most recognizable players from the teams that had the most national television coverage are the only ones invited to the trophy’s presentation in New York. Quarterbacks and Running Backs have dominated the Heisman’s winner circle for more than two decades. Gone are the days of a Fullback (is that even a position anymore?) hearing his name read on that cold night in December.
A perfect example of the Heisman’s unwritten rule played out in the 2018 season. The University of Oklahoma’s Quarterback, Kyler Murray, secured the award, and his runner ups were the University of Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and “THE” Ohio State University’s Dwayne Haskins Jr. Like the 2018 season, the 2019 season’s winner will be a Quarterback’s to lose. Let’s take a look at this season’s leading candidates.
Jalen Hurts, the University of Oklahoma’s new Quarterback, takes over the starting job after transferring from the University of Alabama. Luckily, Hurts is moving from one school rich with tradition and a trophy case filled with hardware to another. Hurts has big shoes to fill, as the last two Heisman winners, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, also proudly led the Sooners of Norman. Along with these high expectations, Hurts is entering the high octane offense of Oklahoma’s Head Coach, Lincoln Riley. Like Murray and Mayfield, Hurts fits the mold for an offense with an emphasis on speed and volume of plays, so it should feel like, “Groundhog Day,” for Riley. While he may be a scheme fit, it is still a new offense to learn with only one Offensive Line starter returning from last season. Those growing pains should be aided by offensive weapons CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra. Hurts will need them to produce this season, as Oklahoma’s defense has been their weakness for years now. After experiencing the highs and lows of being the Quarterback for a College Football powerhouse, and being passed over for a Freshman phenom, Jalen Hurts finally has the support of the coaching staff and an entire locker room behind him. Hurts is done being the understudy.
Tua Tagovailoa is back for another year as the University of Alabama’s gunslinger. Tua was a few games away from hoisting the Heisman Trophy above his head last season, so he begins this season as the odds-on favorite. Tua, unlike many of his cohorts in College Football, has an NFL caliber receiving corps in his arsenal. The country’s top reciever Jerry Jeudy and pass catching stud Henry Ruggs III make up this year’s version of Alabama’s explosive offense. Expect much of the same from Tua this season, and that is not selling him short. We are all guilty of recency bias, so after Tua was injured during the 2018 SEC Championship Game, all we could remember from that weekend was Kyler Murray easily leading Oklahoma to a Big 12 Conference Championship. I believe Tua’s injury cost him the Heisman last year. However, that situation could have been avoided. What we all seem to forget is last year’s Alabama team demolished almost everyone they played. The scores were so one-sided, Tua would often not play the second half because of the monstrous lead they had built.
Hypothetically, Tua’s stats could have been even better had he played all those quarters. But that’s just speculation. What’s real is Tua has all the pieces around him to take home this year’s Heisman. He’s got Nick Saban, College Football’s best coach (and potentially a man who sold his soul to win championships), the best group of Wide Receivers in the NCAA, and a defense that strikes fear into the hearts of many. The only adversity facing Tua is new Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian. While he may be new to Tua, Sarkisian was previously the Offensive Coordinator for Alabama when Jalen Hurts was steering the ship. Although he will be working with a new Quarterback, Sarkisian is still familiar with the Alabama formula to winning National Championships. This history of excellence should prove useful to Tua. Even when he loses, he wins.
Trevor Lawrence was all the talk amongst media outlets last season. Clemson University’s “Ginger Terminator” sashayed his way into the National Championship Game. Without much resistance on Alabama’s part, he won the thing too. Wow. Things seemed easy for Lawrence in his first season, but that aura of effortlessness was the product of many hours of hard work and dedication. Going into last season, Lawrence was not the starting Quarterback for Clemson. Lawrence had to bide his time, and eventually, it worked in his favor when coach Dabo Swinney chose him to replace Kelly Bryant. Much like Tua Tagovailoa, Lawrence had the appeal of being a Freshman Quarterback on a successful team. The comparisons to Tua don’t end there, as both Quarterbacks won their starting jobs from underperforming veterans. What Lawrence holds over Tua is a National Championship Ring. As last year’s titleholder, Lawrence already tasted success, and he is primed and ready to return to that well. While he’s winning games, he may as well pick up an individual award like the Heisman Trophy too. With the weak Atlantic Coast Conference as his competition and coach Dabo Swinney guiding him, Trevor Lawrence is prepared to lead the Clemson Tigers on a historic Championship defense tour.
After examining the situations of three Heisman Trophy race frontrunners, I have come to the conclusion that the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner will be Tua Tagovailoa. Between himself, Hurts, and Lawrence, he is in the best position to succeed. We must always learn from history, and yes, Trevor Lawrence and Clemson may have easily taken care of Tua’s Alabama team in last year’s championship, but no other College Football team has the prestige and history that the University of Alabama does. At a certain point, we must realize that some things in this world are inevitable. Death, taxes and Alabama playing for a National Championship come to mind first.
In a landscape where we award winning, Tua Tagovailoa sets himself up perfectly by playing the most important position for College Football’s most recognizable team. The offensive and defensive talent around him doesn’t hurt either. You’ve heard it here first, folks. Place your bets now. You can thank me in December.
~Matthew Morisher, Staff Writer~