The odds are being adjusted but when it comes to the pecking order in the Heisman Trophy projections, there has been little movement.
Two months ago, quarterbacks led the way as Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young and USC’s Caleb Williams were the top three candidates. They are still in those slots.
Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. has the best odds among the non-quarterbacks. After seeing Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson finish second in the 2021 Heisman voting, is this the year when a defensive player wins college football’s top individual honor?
Quarterbacks Topping the Charts
Ten of the last 12 Heisman Trophy winners were quarterbacks and that includes Young, last year’s winner.
Based on the current college football betting lines, it seems to be a market dominated by quarterbacks yet again. A couple of months ago, it was a two-player race with Stroud leading Young. However, Williams has closed the gap.
Stroud, who threw for 4,435 yards with 44 touchdown passes and six interceptions while completing 72% of his passes, has gone from +175 to +225 in the Heisman Trophy odds.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) July 27, 2022
Young, trying to join former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin as the only player to win the Heisman Trophy in back-to-back years, has seen his odds go from +375 to +325. Williams was at +800 a couple of months ago but now he is at +475.
Stroud, Williams, and Young were among the top seven players in quarterback rating in 2021. Stroud and Young saw multiple receivers be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft while Williams will have some adjusting to do as he left Oklahoma to join his former college coach Lincoln Riley at Southern California.
Anderson Looks To Take the Next Step
One issue with the Heisman Trophy over the years is that defensive players rarely have a shot at winning the award. That bias boiled over when Pittsburgh defensive star Hugh Green received 139 fewer first-, second-, or third-place votes than South Carolina running back George Rogers.
Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson did win the Heisman in 1997. However, his work on offense and special teams contributed to that win.
Perhaps times are changing because Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Alabama’s Will Anderson finished in the top five in the 2021 voting. While Young and Stroud finished ahead of Anderson in the balloting, one has to wonder if Anderson will strike a blow for defensive players by winning the Heisman.
Young had a spectacular season for Alabama in 2021. However, it would be hard to say that anybody other than Anderson was Alabama’s top player a season ago. He led the country in 33½ tackles for loss and 17½ sacks. He was the first player from a Football Bowl Subdivision team to record at least 30 tackles for loss in a decade.
There will be some holes to fill on the Alabama defense. However, Anderson seemed primed for another special season.
Anderson is currently at +2000 in the Heisman odds. He will be a favorite among those making college football predictions who are eager for a defensive player to get his due.
Hitting the Ground Running
The last two running backs to win the Heisman Trophy both played at Alabama. Mark Ingram won the award in 2009 when he ran for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns. Six years later it was Derrick Henry who was named the Heisman Trophy winner after running for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that according to the college football picks, one of the top candidates among the running backs is Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, a transfer from Georgia Tech, comes in at +3300.
That ties him with Bijan Robinson of Texas for the best odds among the running backs.
Robinson was eighth in the country with an average of 112.7 rushing yards per game. Robinson’s odds have fallen back a bit from +2800 to +3300.
Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen is closing in on Gibbs and Robinson as his odds have improved from +5000 to +4000 in the last two months. TreVeyon Henderson of Ohio State also has +4000 odds.
Maybe Grass Is Greener on the Other Side
In a college football world dominated by the transfer portal, it seems fitting that nine of the 22 players with the best odds to win the Heisman started their collegiate careers elsewhere.
It starts with Williams who seems set up for success at USC.
Fellow quarterbacks Quinn Ewers, who moved from Ohio State to Texas, Jaxson Dart (USC to Ole Miss), Dillon Gabriel (UCF to Oklahoma), J.T. Daniels (Georgia to West Virginia), Kedon Slovis (USC to Pittsburgh), and Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma to South Carolina) are joined by Kentucky’s Will Levis who is ready for his second season in Lexington after beginning his career at Penn State.
Gabriel has seen his odds move from +2800 to +2200 since late May while Dart is trending in the other direction, going from +2500 to +4000.
Gibbs is the other top Heisman candidate who took advantage of the transfer portal.
Not all the darkhorse candidates changed their addresses.
Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke (+2800), Clemson quarterback D.J Uiagalelei (+3300), Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+3300) are among the players on the Heisman radar who stayed at their original school.