Entering the college football season, Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette were considered the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Six weeks into the season, however, the Heisman leaderboard looks noticeably different.
“If you had to give a Heisman Trophy at the halfway point, you’d probably give it to Lamar Jackson with his playmaking ability,” ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Even with the loss, I still think Louisville is hovering at that top-four mark. I’ve just been really impressed with them as a football team. That’s what opens up the discussion. All these undefeated teams, the world that we live in in college football, there are people that still vote and they have a hard time with me saying that Louisville with one loss should still be ahead of some of these undefeated teams. But I think if the committee is doing their job and really watching the games, it’s really hard for me to look at Louisville and not consider them one of the top four or five or six teams in the country despite their one loss in Death Valley against Clemson.”
Jackson has been otherworldly for Louisville. He’s thrown for 14 touchdowns, he’s rushed for 14 touchdowns, he’s completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,625 yards, and he leads his team in rushing with 688 yards.
After Jackson, Watson is still in the Heisman Trophy picture, along with Washington quarterback Jake Browning, who leads the country in QB rating. But don’t sleep on Michigan’s do-everything star Jabrill Peppers, who might just be the most versatile player in America.
“I think he is (contention for the Heisman),” Herbstreit said. “I would start with Lamar Jackson. I think he’s doing some things that we have not seen done in a long time. He is as dynamic in the open field as any quarterback that I’ve seen. A lot of people are talking about a Michael Vick type of guy when he gets out in the open field. He’s been a unique story this year. After that, I think it’s wide open.”
Peppers might be college football’s most jack-of-all-trades player since Charles Woodson, who won the Heisman at Michigan in 1997.
“(Peppers is) on a team that’s going to be up hovering around the top five all year,” Herbstreit said. “He’s a unique story because he can play corner, he can play nickel, he plays a lot of linebacker for them, he blitzes, he covers – he does everything. You watch this guy play, you would love this kid. He’s just tenacious. You can’t help but love him. But then they throw him over on offense. He’ll play the slot receiver, he’ll play tailback, they’ll snap him the ball as a Wildcat quarterback – he looks like he’s just playing backyard football. The game looks so easy to him. Needless to day, I have a vote. You got to put three names on there, and if I were voting right now, he would definitely be on my ballot. The kid is so much fun to watch.”