In a season in which the Heisman trophy wasn’t secured into the final weekend of action, Alabama’s Bryce Young proved more than worthy of taking home the hardware after a dominant performance in the SEC title game over the then top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. But, this isn’t about the past—and Young’s stellar season that has yet to conclude—it’s a look into the future, and into next fall, where the list of potential Heisman finalists is a laundry list of names to consider. With coaching changes in abundance, coupled with the chaos parallel with the NCAA transfer portal, here are a few names to watch as early favorites to hoist CFB’s most prestigious award.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
While the only two-time Heisman winner came back in 1974-75 (Archie Griffin), Young, out of any recent Heisman winner, has a clear chance to repeat. His status as the quarterback for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide draws enough attention in and of itself, but his skill set paired with the expected replenishing of talent both in the backfield and on the perimeter is incredibly exciting. A true junior to be with a CFP appearance in the foreground, if Young is able to captain the Tide to its fourth CFP title in the last seven seasons in the weeks to come, it’s his award to lose next fall.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
A true sophomore like Young, Robinson is the exception to the running back narrative. One of the country’s premier offensive weapons regardless of position, his presence within an offense led by Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers will remain paramount for the Longhorns to return back to Big 12 supremacy. Despite suffering a season-ending injury after just 10 games, he topped 100 rushing yards in six of his first seven games, and, despite the lack of offensive support, he still finished as one of just nine Power Five ball-carriers with 1,400 total yards and 15 touchdowns.
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
The snubs of snubs this season who failed to receive an invite to New York City as a Heisman finalist (inexplicably), opposing offensive linemen were at the mercy of Anderson every snap all season long. With 15.5 sacks this year, Anderson leads all of college football. He also has 10.5 more TFLs than anyone in the country and leads the nation with 31.5 overall, two shy of the all-time single-season record. That production, remember, is in just his second season in Tuscaloosa and in the SEC against the country’s top athletes, where Anderson was often double- and triple-teamed—his output is video-game-like. A one-man wrecking ball within Nick Saban’s defense, Anderson totaled 53 pressures against SEC competition, the most by any defender since 2016, and recorded a 23% pressure rate on non-blitzes, good for fourth-best in the country.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
With 35 touchdowns this season, it’s not possible to conjure the idea of the Heisman conversation next fall and not include Stroud. With another season of Big Ten competition and an embarrassment of pass-catching talent on the outside despite losing Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson to the draft, Stroud should remain in the thick of conversations as next fall progresses.
Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin
A kid barely out of high school who should just now be finishing his senior season at the prep level, Allen, just 17 years old, has a ceiling truly unlike any other backfield talent the country has to offer. The “next big thing” out of Wisconsin following in the direct footsteps of Melvin Gordon, James White, and Jonathan Taylor, Allen amassed 1,109 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first collegiate campaign.
Other Names To Watch
- TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
- Jordan Addison, WR, Pittsburgh
- Caleb Williams, QB, Oklahoma
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
- Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College
- Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami