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#pounditMonday, December 6, 2021

Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates for 2019

Tua Tagovailoa

The college football season is nearing the quarter mark, and the race for the College Football Playoff is in full swing. So is the race for the Heisman Trophy, with a talented group of players — primarily quarterbacks — who have already put themselves in contention for the sport’s most prestigious individual trophy.

Here are the five players who have distinguished themselves the most in the early going in the Heisman race.

5. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Fields has been every bit as good as the Buckeyes hoped he would be and then some. The Georgia Bulldogs transfer has thrown for 13 touchdowns in his first four games and rushed for six more, and has yet to be intercepted. Fields’ Heisman credentials will really be burnished when he faces better opposition. He hasn’t faced a top 25 opponent yet, but if he can rip apart the likes of Penn State and Wisconsin later in the season, he’s likely to get a more serious look.

4. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

One of the two preseason favorites for the award, Lawrence hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts in 2019. His fifth interception gave him one more than he threw all of last season. The fact that it’s come while facing one real quality opponent is worrisome. Two of those picks game against Georgia Tech, for instance — a team that lost to The Citadel. Clemson doesn’t have another ranked opponent on its schedule for the rest of the regular season, which may prove a hindrance to building hype. That fact may also allow him to pad his stats and restore his preseason momentum, which could help his case.

3. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Hurts looks much better than the quarterback who started for two years at Alabama. Three games into his Oklahoma career, he’s thrown nine touchdowns to no interceptions, and he has two 150-yard rushing games. With 1,253 total yards through just three games, Hurts is dominating. He has tougher tests to come, which will tell us more. Hurts is a known commodity on the rise, though, which could absolutely help him as we get toward the end of the season.

2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Has anyone exceeded expectations more than Burrow? He’s thrived in LSU’s new offensive scheme, and he looks like one of the nation’s most dominant quarterbacks. He’s completed over 80 percent of his passes, and his touchdown volume is remarkable. He’s already thrown for 17 touchdowns, one more than he had in all of 2018, and he’s limited himself to two picks. He also has the most impressive single-game performance to date of any of the top contenders, going for 471 yards and four touchdowns against a quality opponent in Texas, with a lot of home field advantage working against him. He’s leapfrogged most everyone else at this point, and if this keeps up, he could top Heisman rankings soon.

1. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

It’s simple for Tagovailoa: he was one of the preseason favorites for the award and has done nothing to diminish his status. If anything, he’s enhanced it: 18 total touchdowns, no interceptions, 1,300 yards passing in four dominant games. The caveat applies here too, as his two most difficult games have been Duke and South Carolina, with tougher tests to come. Tagovailoa has shown in the past that he’s up to them, though, and he may be impossible to dislodge after coming up just short a year ago.

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