2015 Preseason Award Projections: Heisman Trophy

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2015 college football season, WalterFootball.com has rolled out our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2016 NFL Draft. We also have projected the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football. We conclude the series with the perhaps most storied, and overrated, award in sports, the Heisman Trophy.

The Heisman Trophy is given to the best player in college football, even though it never goes to linemen and has hardly ever gone to a defensive player. Last year’s winner was Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who we predicted would win the Trophy in the preseason.

Heisman Trophy Finalists:

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

I personally think the Heisman Trophy is a joke. The fact that it has hardly ever gone to a defensive player and doesn’t go to an offensive or defensive lineman is absurd. The hype around the Heisman is insane, but every year, readers ask me for a prediction so here it is.

Prescott is definitely capable of putting together a big season to win the Heisman Trophy. The award has also gone to a lot of dual-threat quarterbacks this century, including the likes of Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel and Mariota.

Last year, Prescott completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,449 yards with 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also averaged 4.7 yards per carry for 986 yards with 14 touchdowns on the ground. Prescott was slowed by an ankle injury in the second half of the year, but the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is a dual-threat quarterback who could produce a huge year for the Bulldogs and be a strong contender for the Heisman.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

When Todd Gurley was suspended and eventually out for the year with a torn ACL, Georgia’s offense continued to run over the opposition thanks to Chubb. The human bowling ball rolled over tacklers and and was a physical force in the SEC. The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder is a powerful runner who also has the quickness to rip off yards in chunks. In the open field, defensive backs really struggle to bring him down.

In 2014 while splitting time with Gurley, Chubb averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 1,547 yards with 14 touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 213 yards and two scores. Chubb should have enough talent around him to help him, but even with defenses selling out to stop him, he could run wild in the SEC for the second-straight season. It wouldn’t be surprising if Chubb challenges for the Heisman as a sophomore.

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Boykin may not be a top NFL prospect, but he led a huge season at TCU in 2014, and I think he is a safe bet to repeated that performance. Boykin has talent coming back around him and plays in a conference that doesn’t feature many tough defenses. He should be massively productive again in 2015.

Boykin (6-2, 205) did a lot of damage with his arm and legs last season. He ran for 707 yards with eight touchdowns while completing 61 percent of his passes for 3,901 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Led by Boykin, TCU was a point-machine and there is no reason to think that won’t be the case in 2015. He seems like a college system quarterback who could be a finalist for the Heisman in 2015.

Heisman Trophy Runner-Up:

Starting QB, Ohio State

The starting quarterback of the Buckeyes could easily win the Heisman Trophy. Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett are both capable of putting up huge numbers to win this award. Jones has the bigger skill set as a pocket passer and runner, while Barrett was very effective running the Buckeyes’ offense during the 2014 regular season. I think the winner of Ohio State’s quarterback battle will be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

The Buckeyes are loaded with talent, so whoever is their starting quarterback should put up some huge numbers in 2015. Ohio State returns four of its starting offensive linemen from last year to go with with a receiving prospect in Michael Thomas and one of the best running backs in the nation in Ezekiel Elliott. Whoever is named Ohio State’s starter should cruise over an easy Big Ten schedule and put up huge numbers. Playing for the defending National Champions will also bring lots of attention to the signal-caller.

Heisman Trophy Winner:

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

While so much attention was paid to the Ohio State quarterback situation, Elliot was the workhorse who carried the Buckeyes to last season’s National Championship. He destroyed Wisconsin (20-220-2), Alabama (20-230-2) and Oregon (36-246-4) in the final three games to lead Ohio State. Elliot averaged 6.9 yards per carry in 2014 for 1,878 yards with 18 touchdowns. He also had 28 receptions for 220 yards.

If he stays healthy, Elliott should end up having a massive year. The Big Ten provides a lot of weak opponents for him to run over, and he also has four of his five offensive linemen returning and a weapon at quarterback – no matter who is picked to be the starter. Elliott could produce a massive season like Mark Ingram at Alabama in 2009, and Elliott is my prediction to win the Heisman Trophy.

Honorable Mentions:

Offense: California QB Jared Goff, Pittsburgh RB James Connor, Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, Michigan State QB Connor Cook and Alabama RB Derrick Henry.

Defense: Arizona LB Scooby Wright, UCLA LB Myles Jack, Ohio State DE Joey Bosa and Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III.

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