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An Early Look at the 2021 Heisman Trophy Race
After a heartfelt acceptance speech from Devonta Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy is in the rear-view mirror. It’s time to start peering ahead to 2021 and diving into the numbers.
I’m not talking about ATS data or who’s going to win next year’s National Championship. I’m referring specifically to the 2021 Heisman Trophy odds.
Who are the contenders? Are there any sleepers soaked in value?
That’s where this early preview comes in.
Opening Odds for the 2021 Heisman Trophy
It’s important to shop your lines – even if you plan on hitting this market well out in advance. Below is a table highlighting the odds to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy from three of the best football betting sites.
These lines were released on January 5th, the same day that Devonta Smith joined the elite brotherhood.
|Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma, QB)||+400||+450||+500|
|Sam Howell (UNC, QB)||+650||+550||+700|
|D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson, QB)||+650||+600||+700|
|Kedon Slovis (USC, QB)||+650||+700||+1200|
|D’Eriq King (Miami, QB)||+1000||+1000||+1200|
|Bryce Young (Alabama, QB)||+1000||+1200||+1200|
|JT Daniels (Georgia, QB)||+1000||+800||+1200|
|Tyler Shough (Oregon, QB)||+1200||+1400||+1400|
|Brian Robinson Jr. (Alabama, RB)||+1200||+1500||+1400|
|Michael Penix (Indiana, QB)||+1200||+1600||+1400|
|Breece Hall (Iowa State, RB)||+1200||+1850||+1400|
|Jayden Daniels (Arizona State, QB)||+1200||+1100||+1400|
|Emory Jones (Florida, QB)||+1200||+1200||+1400|
|Kyren Williams (Notre Dame, RB)||+1400||+1400||+1600|
|Brock Purdy (Iowa State, QB)||+1400||+1700||+1600|
|Bijan Robinson (Texas, RB)||+1400||+1200||+1600|
|Graham Mertz (Wisconsin, QB)||+1400||+1500||+1600|
|Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M, RB)||+1600||+1900||+1800|
|Matt Corral (Ole Miss, QB)||+1600||+1900||+1800|
|Deuce Vaughn (Kansas State, RB)||+1600||+1800||+1800|
|Kevin Harris (South Carolina, RB)||+2000||+2000||+2000|
|Dillon Gabriel (UCF, QB)||N/A||+2100||+2500|
|Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina, QB)||N/A||+2500||+2500|
|Carson Strong (Nevada, QB)||N/A||+2200||+2500|
|John Metchie III (Alabama WR)||N/A||+2400||+2500|
|Jordan Addison (Pittsburgh, WR)||+2300||+2500|
|Zay Flowers (Boston College, WR)||+2500||+2500|
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Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the bookies are not expecting to see another wideout hoist the hardware in 2021. Just three WRs are even priced, and each is positioned at the bottom of the odds sheet.
Keep in mind, there were 29 years of separation between wide receivers winning the Heisman Trophy (Desmond Howard, 1991, Devonta Smith 2020). This is predominately a QB/WR award and the 2021 Heisman odds reflect that.
Top Heisman Trophy Contenders for 2021
It looks like Bryce Young is set to take over in Tuscaloosa but we don’t know for sure. Sam Howell has put up monster numbers during his first two seasons at Chapel Hill, but is a guy who plays for North Carolina really going to win the Heisman?
Since 2001, just two players from the ACC have been recognized for this award. One was Jameis Winston (won the National Championship with Florida State that year), the other was Lamar Jackson.
The way I see it, two guys stand out above the rest when it comes to the sincere 2021 Heisman Trophy contenders.
Oklahoma got off to a slow start under the guidance of their RS freshman QB, but boy did the Sooners end the year on a full head of steam. OU won their final eight games behind Rattler’s electric right arm, and now he gets a full offseason of preparation with Lincoln Riley to work on improving his craft.
Spencer’s arm strength is well-documented, but he’s far from a one-trick pony. When the pocket collapsed and it came down to extending plays with your legs, nobody was better in 2020.
Highest-graded QBs outside the pocket in 2020:— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 6, 2021
1. Spencer Rattler – 92.1
2. Zach Wilson – 86.4
3. Kyle Trask – 84.1 pic.twitter.com/PRStVs3ACe
In fact, Rattler reminds me a lot of a young, raw, Patrick Mahomes. He’s the favorite to win the Heisman for a reason.
Breece Hall was really good as a freshman. Then the 6’1” 215-pound RB from Wichita, KS exploded as a sophomore finishing 6th in the 2020 Heisman Trophy voting.
|Year||Carries||Rushing Yards||Yards/Carry||Rushing TDs|
A quick glance at Hall’s numbers indicate his big jump, and his durability really stood out (15+ carries in every game). The Cyclones qualified for their first Big 12 Title game in program history, and they blew out Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Brock Purdy is a nice player and the defense was solid, but Bryce’s consistency is what propelled Matt Campbell’s group forward.
Breece Hall now has 8 games with multiple rush TD. That is tied for the most in a season in Big 12 history (since 1996).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 2, 2021
Hall tied Joseph Randle, Daniel Thomas and Ricky Williams. pic.twitter.com/azFBhV08mx
Now entering his third year in Ames, another 1,500+ yard campaign with 20+ touchdowns should be in store. It’s scary to think, but those numbers actually might be his floor.
2021 Heisman Trophy Sleepers
I’d love to tout Wolf Pack QB Carson Strong heading into next season, but it’s probably a lost cause. If Zach Wilson didn’t get a sniff in 2020 after the numbers he put up in Provo, it’s pretty clear that the Heisman voters don’t take the kids from the Group of Five conferences seriously.
On that note, a couple of SEC running backs are in line for monster 2021s.
South Carolina wasn’t very good in 2020, finishing the year 2-8 with really spotty play under center. Opposing SEC defenses tried to key in on stopping Kevin Harris, they just weren’t very successful.
The 225-pound bowling bowl out of the backfield trucked over the opposition to the tune of an eye-popping 6.2 yards/carry. Kevin ran for over 1,100 yards and reached paydirt 16 times. If the Gamecocks can make a leap in the SEC East standings, Harris could very well receive an invitation to the PlayStation Theater.
Most people looking for Heisman Trophy candidates in Athens will point toward quarterback JT Daniels. Instead, I’m going off the radar and targeting their speedy running back. Zamir White had a relatively quiet sophomore season (779 rushing yards) but he did score 11 touchdowns in 10 games.
The Bulldogs are a team we expect to be ranked inside the top-10 and could make a push for the CFP. White is likely to receive the lion’s share of the totes, and that could lead to some video-game-like numbers.
My Early 2021 Heisman Trophy Prediction
I’m not going to get fancy here and try and be extra bold with my Heisman Trophy prediction for 2021. I’m going with the odds-on favorite, Spencer Rattler.
Lincoln Riley’s fast-paced spread-out offense in Norman is the perfect recipe for generating Heisman Trophy quarterbacks. We saw that we Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, and we almost saw it with Jalen Hurts.
Dare I say that Rattler could be the best of the bunch?