The Heisman Trophy is given to the best player in college football each year. While sometimes the favorites go into the year and win it, there are always players who surprise and contend for the trophy. Who are the players who could surprise this season? Players considered for this list have 40/1 odds or worse. Here are five dark horse contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Heisman Odds- 40/1
Etienne’s great season last year was overshadowed by Trevor Lawrence and the quarterback situation. The sophomore still rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns. As a freshman and even the start of last year, he was splitting carries, but now he is the lead back.
Clemson will win a lot of games this year, which is good for people contending for the Heisman. Unfortunately, they don’t play many good teams, which could hurt his chance at “Heisman moments”. He’ll have to compete with Lawrence for some of the hype around the trophy, but Etienne is going to be a productive back, who is well worth the 40/1 odds.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Heisman Odds- 40/1
He was part of a three-headed backfield two seasons ago and split carries with Elijah Holyfield last year. Swift was still able to rush for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns. Georgia usually has good running backs, so he’ll have to share some of his carries, but he could be poised for a big third year on campus.
The Bulldogs are projected to win a lot of games this season, but will also have a tough schedule. Swift will have ample opportunities for big games against quality defenses, which could legitimize his Heisman Trophy case. Like Etienne, Swift will have to fight for some of the hype with his quarterback, Jake Fromm, but Swift could have a big year for Georgia.
Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
Heisman Odds- 80/1
The Fighting Irish found their quarterback last season in Book, who led them to the College Football Playoff. He didn’t start the year under center, but didn’t give the job up when he was inserted into the lineup. He threw for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns in 10 games played. With a full season coming up, Book could contend for the Heisman Trophy.
Notre Dame plays some tough games this season, including a big one at Georgia. He’ll have big opportunities to make a case for the Heisman with a full season as the starting quarterback. If Notre Dame plays well, Book will benefit from the publicity, which could boost his chances to win the trophy.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Heisman Odds- 100/1
The last two non-quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy were running backs at Alabama. Harris could be the next non-quarterback to win. Harris was a part of a backfield that included Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs, but now will likely be the lead back for Alabama. Even with the other talented running backs, Harris still rushed for 783 yards and four touchdowns.
Harris will get a lot of carries for an Alabama team that will win a lot of games this season. If they can make the College Football Playoff again, he will be given plenty of opportunities to shine. With Tua Tagovailoa getting injured last year, Harris could be leaned on more heavily, especially in their blowout games.
Feleipe Franks, QB, Florida
Heisman Odds- 100/1
Franks has always had potential, but took a huge step forward in his first season under Dan Mullen. He threw for 2,457 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions on 58.4 percent completion. If he takes another step forward this year, Florida and Franks can do some big things.
Florida could challenge Georgia for the SEC East. If they do, and if Franks play well, the Gators will get the national recognition needed for a player to win the Heisman. With a step forward for Franks and some team success, Florida could have another Heisman contender on their hands.
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