The Heisman Trophy has been dominated by quarterbacks overall, but wide receiver DeVonta Smith was able to win the award in 2020. A non-quarterback can win the award even if they are longshots. Here are the non-quarterbacks who can compete for the 2021 Heisman Trophy.
Note: Odds found here.
1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas Longhorns (+1800)
Robinson was one of the best freshman running backs that Texas has had in a long time in 2020. He rushed for 703 yards and four touchdowns in nine games played. To go with that, he also had 15 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns. While Texas didn’t have a great season, there is some optimism for the 2021 season with Robinson in the backfield.
Texas has a history of running backs winning the Heisman (see Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams) and Robinson could be next. New head coach Steve Sarkisian plans to use Robinson heavily, which means he should have some good numbers. If he can help the Longhorns win some of their big games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Losing those games would likely mean that Robinson’s numbers would have to be astronomical to beat out a quarterback for the award.
2. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State Cyclones (+2500)
Iowa State has been very competitive in the Big 12 recently and Hall is one of the reasons why. As a freshman he had 897 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Last season he helped Iowa State make the Big 12 Championship Game with his 1,572 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns. There are some lofty expectations for Hall and the Cyclones in 2021.
One factor that may hinder Hall’s chances at the Heisman is that if the team plays well, he may split some of the credit (and Heisman votes) with his teammate, quarterback Brock Purdy. Hall will need to improve upon his stats in 2020 and also have Iowa State in position to play in big games late in the season. For a Heisman moment, Hall will need to do some incredible things against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa.
3. Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+3300)
Notre Dame lost a lot of their offensive players from last season, but they do bring back breakout star Kyren Williams at running back. Williams rushed for 1,125 yards in 2020 and finished the season with 14 total touchdowns. The Fighting Irish will be counting on Williams to help move the chains a lot in 2021.
With Notre Dame’s home games broadcast on NBC and ESPN mostly picking up the away games, Williams will get enough national publicity to win the award. The question will come down to whether he can still produce at a high level when four of his offensive linemen are gone from last season. Notre Dame will have to win some big games again to put Williams in position to win the award. With games against Cincinnati, Wisconsin, USC and North Carolina, Williams will have a tough road, but also a lot of opportunity ahead.
4. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide (+5000)
Last year, an Alabama wide receiver won the Heisman and it could happen again. Metchie was productive before Jaylen Waddle was injured last season, but stepped up when his team needed him to play even better when Waddle was out. He finished the 2020 season with 55 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns. With Waddle and Smith in the pros, Metchie is the top receiver on Alabama.
Metchie will need to help new quarterback Bryce Young get comfortable in his first starting experience. Having Young at quarterback creates an interesting dynamic for Metchie’s Heisman odds. If Young plays poorly, it will be hard for Metchie to win the award. On the flip side, if Young plays well, he could steal Heisman votes. Metchie will need to put up numbers just like Smith did last season and Alabama will need to continue to win big as well.
5. Derek Stingley, CB, LSU Tigers (N/A)
Will a defensive player ever win the Heisman again? This year, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley is the best bet to win the award from the defensive side of the ball. He has been a shutdown corner for the Tigers for two seasons. In that time he has six interceptions and 20 passes defended. He’ll be expected to be great again in 2021.
The last defensive player to win the Heisman was Charles Woodson in 1997. He too was a defensive back, but also saw time on offense. There is some talk about Stingley playing both ways, which could really boost his case for the award. He’ll need to force turnovers, gain some decent yardage on offense and help LSU have a bounce-back season. That’s a lot to ask of a player, but Stingley is a supremely talented player.
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