2017 Heisman Trophy Winner Predictions and Betting Odds
By Jay, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
The start of the 2017 College Football season is just over a month away and that means it is “predictions” time here at Predictem.com. Among the most difficult preseason predictions, is trying to decide the one player that is going to emerge as College Football’s most outstanding player to take home the Heisman Trophy. Needless to say, it takes a magical season to win the biggest individual prize in college football. A players needs to have incredible individual statistics, a team that can sustain success to put their name in the national spotlight, and the player has to remain injury free to keep producing throughout the season. Last year my pick for the 2016 Heisman Trophy in Leonard Fournette was arguably the best player in the country which was evident in May when he was selected as the 4th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, Fournette could not stay healthy last year which is a critical component for a Heisman Trophy campaign. Today we take a look at the 2017 Heisman Trophy betting odds and discuss the players that could be sitting on stage in New York in December for College Football’s biggest individual honor. Take a look as I provide my top 15 players to win 2017’s prestigious award!
No. 15 – Quinton Flowers +4500 (QB, South Florida, Senior)
In many ways, Quinton Flowers posted numbers that were capable of the Heisman Trophy discussion last year as a junior at South Florida. The star quarterback completed 62% passing for 2,812 yards with 24 touchdowns and 7 picks. He also racked up another 1,530 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns as one of the nation’s most elite dual threat quarterbacks. Flowers actually only trailed Louisville’s Lamar Jackson in rushing by a mere 41 yards who went on to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy. From a pure statistics standpoint, I believe Flowers will have every opportunity to post another Heisman Trophy worthy season. The question marks is can South Florida have enough success to elevate Flowers into the national spotlight and will new Head Coach Charlie Strong effect the offensive output?
No. 14 – Arden Key +25000 (DE, LSU, Junior)
Last year to the surprise of many, I put Jabrill Peppers on my Heisman list at No. 14 at 75-1 odds. That bold prediction nearly turned out to be genious as Peppers earned a trip to New York City as a Heisman Trophy Finalist despite falling short to Lamar Jackson. This year I believe another defensive player deserves some attention for a potential dark horse run. While many would like to give this spot to Florida State safety Derwin James, I believe LSU defensive end Arden Key is the name that everyone will be talking about by the end of the year. Key is actually plays the Buck position which is a hybrid of the defensive end/linebacker position. Last year, he racked up 12 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, and 3 forced fumbles. This is a player that has the potential to take over games from the defensive side of the football and is capable of making a lot of noise in 2017.
No. 13 Cam Akers +25000 (RB, Florida State, Freshman)
From one bold prediction to another, I want to put everyone on notice of freshman running back Cam Akers for the Seminoles. Akers is not even listed as the official starter “yet” and has not played a single snap at the college level. However, I think he could be one of the big surprise stories this season. I am not convinced QB Deondre Francois can put the Seminoles offense on his shoulders which means Coach Jimbo Fisher will likely look for a playmaker to fill the void of Dalvin Cook who departed to the NFL. Akers was the #1 running back coming out of high school last year and won the Gatorade Player of Year Award for the state of Mississippi. He is blessed with a blend of speed and power that makes him difficult to bring down. He will be able to run between the tackles and kick it to the outside. Therefore, he is designed for Florida State’s offense and I believe he is going to feast when given the opportunity.
No. 12 – Nick Chubb +4300 (RB, Georgia, Senior)
Nick Chubb had a disappointing junior campaign but the same could be said for all of Georgia’s players last year. At times, the Bulldogs abandoned the running game all together under 1st year Head Coach Kirby Smart which is sacrilege for the folks in Athens considering their long history of elite rushers. At one point in his career, Chubb had racked up 13 straight 100 yard performances as one of the premier rushers in the SEC. If that player returns to form and Georgia takes the step forward that I expect, Chubb could be in the conversation by year’s end.
No. 11 – Luke Faulk +4900 (QB, Washington State, Senior)
If you want to throw a dart towards a guy that will most likely have Heisman Trophy numbers barring injury, then consider Luke Faulk. The Cougars senior quarterback is on the heels of a 2016 campaign that featured 4,468 passing yards with 38 touchdowns and 11 picks. Faulk’s passing output ranked 4th in the FBS in passing yards and they have the tools in place to potentially improve on those numbers in 2017. Obviously the question here is can Washington State sustain enough success to legitimately make a case for Faulk in the Heisman Trophy race? If they have a big year, Faulk’s stock will rise significantly.
No. 10 – Mason Rudolph +3600 (QB, Oklahoma State, Senior)
I mentioned in my National Championship preview that there is some uncertainty in the season especially after Bob Stoops suddenly stepped down at Oklahoma. I believe that opportunity is knocking for Oklahoma State to steal the Big 12 this season. If that happens, many are going to want to give credit to what promises to be an explosive Cowboys offense. Enter senior quarterback Mason Rudolph who is fresh off a strong 4,091 yard season with 28 touchdowns and just 4 picks. Not only does Rudolph have a team that could take a big step forward this year but he also has one of the best wide receivers in the nation to help make it happen in James Washington. All signs pointing up for Rudolph!
No. 9 – Josh Rosen +3500 (QB, UCLA, Junior)
Junior UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is receiving a lot of hype as the 2017 season approaches. Rosen is quite an enigma from an expectations standpoint. He played just 6 games last season before suffering a season ending injury which required surgery to his throwing shoulder. When he was playing, Rosen posted some really big numbers including a 400 yard performance in his last outing which resulted in a close loss to Arizona State. The good news is that UCLA’s offense is designed for production around the quarterback position. With that being said, I still have some skepticism for Rosen around his consistency and supporting cast. I kind of feel like Rosen is a “hype” play but time will tell the true story.
No. 8 – Jalen Hurts +2200 (QB, Alabama, Sophomore)
Last year freshman Jalen Hurts was put in control of one of the most high profile positions in college football by way of quarterback for Alabama. As most are aware, Alabama’s main offensive focus is running the football between the tackles. Matter of fact, I am sure some are wondering why Bo Scarbrough is not on my list. For Scarbrough, he showed last year that he has big game potential but he also suffered a pretty significant leg injury. Additionally, he will have to share the workload this season with Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs which hurts his Heisman chances. However, Hurts will still have every opportunity to build off his successful freshman debut. Last year, Hurts threw for 2,780 yards with 23 scores and 9 picks while adding another 954 yards on the ground with 13 scores. At times, Hurts appeared more dangerous with his feet rather than his throwing arm. Either way, that will continue to work for Alabama this year behind a very talented offensive line. If Hurts takes a step forward as a developed passer, he could really catapult into the Heisman conversation because the Crimson Tide should be a National Championship contender.
No. 7 – Jake Browning +2200 (QB, Washington, Junior)
The Washington Huskies were among the Cinderella stories of the 2016 season and a large part of that breakout success can be accredited to quarterback Jake Browning. Browning had a fantastic season throwing for 3,430 yards with 43 touchdowns and just 9 picks. Browning has built a reputation as one of the nation’s most respected passers. However, this year will be about sustaining expectations following last year’s breakout. Washington should once again be a frontrunner in the Pac-12 which will help. However, Browning is going to need even better numbers to keep himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
No. 6 Saquon Barkley +1500 (RB, Penn State, Junior)
Like it or not, Penn State is knocking on the door of national prominence. James Franklin is an excellent coach and that as obvious last year with the Nittany Lions took down the Big Ten title in surprising fashion. Penn State has a chance to duplicate or potentially build on that success this year with star running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley. I think Barkely has the greater potential for a big year because the Nittany Lions are more of a traditional style offense meaning Barkely will get plenty of touches. In fact, he carried the ball 272 times last year converting those touchdes into 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. This year those numbers should improve and if Penn State can stay around the National Championship discussion then it really helps Barkley’s case for a Heisman Trophy.
No. 5 Sam Darnold +525 (QB, USC, Sophomore)
The Trojans racked up 9 consecutive wins during the 2nd half of the 2016 regular season thanks to tremendous play by redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. Darnold led the Trojans with 3,086 passing yards with 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He showed the poise of an NFL quarterback despite his relatively limited experience and has the potential to develop into one of the best pure passers in the country. USC will need to win games to keep Darnold in the national spotlight but he is clearly one of the most promising upcoming talents in the entire nation.
No. 4 – Derrius Guice +3500 (RB, LSU, Junior)
Despite my failure with Fournette last year, I really think the guy that stepped up to fill his void could emerge as one of the top Heisman Trophy contenders in 2017. When Fournette suffered through the 2nd half of the season with injuries, that did not stop the LSU offense from running the ball effectively with Guice at the helm. After trying to spread the offense out in the first few games of the Ed Orgeron regime, the play calling definitely returned to favor the running attack during the latter part of the year. Guice thrived under the circumstances closing out the year with rushing totals of 252 against Arkansas, 83 against Florida, 285 against Texas A&M, and then 138 against Louisville in the Citrus Bowl. The rising junior also added 8 touchdowns in those 4 games. I expect LSU to ride Guice heavily this year and if he can replicate the production we saw at the end of last season; he has the potential for some really big numbers.
No. 3 Baker Mayfield +850 (QB, Oklahoma, Senior)
A lot of pundits, will have Baker Mayfield at the top of their Heisman Trophy predictions list. The former 2016 Heisman Trophy Finalist posted outstanding numbers last year throwing for 3,965 yards with 40 touchdowns and just 8 picks. Mayfield leads the FBS with a 196.4 quarterback rating and completing over 70% of his passes. Considering the Oklahoma offense lost both Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon in the backfield, the Sooners could look to throw the ball more often under 1st year Head Coach Lincoln Riley. I am still a bit skeptical that the Sooners could take a step back in 2017 as a team but Mayfield will be one of the best players in the country regardless of the Sooners final record.
No. 2 Lamar Jackson +950 (QB, Louisville, Senior)
Who could forget the season Lamar Jackson had in 2016? The true sophomore ran away with the Heisman Trophy voting after a season that featured 3,543 passing yards with 30 touchdowns and 9 picks to go along with 1,571 yards and another 21 touchdowns on the ground. To put things into perspective, only 9 running backs in the FBS gained more yards than Jackson last year and he also ranked 4th in rushing touchdowns from the quarterback position. He is without doubt one of the most elusive running threats in the country. The question now is where does Jackson go from here? You know defenses are going to put all focus towards containing Jackson. How much it will work remains a mystery. If Jackson does continue to thrive, it will still be hard to match the rushing output that helped catapult Jackson’s Heisman Trophy campaign from a year ago. On the other hand, I believe Jackson could be a bigger threat in the passing game if he can become more consistent following a season where he completed just 56% passing. Only 1 person has won the Heisman Trophy in back to back seasons with Archie Griffin in 1974-1975. While I can see Jackson having another incredible year, I just cannot see him winning the Trophy for the 2nd straight season. Even Tim Tebow could not accomplish that feat and he is the best quarterback that we have seen in the modern era.
No. 1 J.T. Barrett +1250 (QB, Ohio State, Senior)
The last Buckeye to win the Heisman Trophy was Troy Smith in 2006 but I believe that 10 year drought will come to an end this season. I am a firm believer that Ohio State will be among the top National Championship contenders in 2017. Luckily for Barrett, he has all the ingredients that could equate to a magical season that results in a Heisman Trophy. Barrett is among the most dangerous dual threat quarterbacks in the nation rushing for 2,465 yards and 31 touchdowns over the past 3 seasons. Last year, he also threw for 2,555 yards with 24 scores and just 7 picks. Obviously the numbers will need to be a little more impressive to solidify a Heisman winner but this Buckeyes team returns nearly everyone. Barrett is the clear leader of an offense that I believe will explode this season. Additionally, Ohio State has a schedule that will be filled with high profile games meaning Barrett is going to be in the spotlight all season. I like the player, I like the team, I like the circumstances, and I like the odds. So there you have it, J.T. Barrett for the 2017 Heisman Trophy! Bet your 2017 Heisman pick for FREE by depositing $100 and getting $100 FREE at GTBets!