We only five weeks away from the start of the 2017 college football season and the campaign can’t arrive quickly enough. With that in mind, Phil Steele of ESPN Insider released a list of who he believes are the 11 contenders for the 2017 Heisman Trophy.
While the full list is behind a paywall, Steele does list 2016 winner Lamar Jackson who, by all accounts, is the biggest no-brainer of all. Still, the expert isn’t picking Jackson to repeat.
Jackson won the award last year thanks to 51 (!!!) touchdowns. He became the first player in FBS history with at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in the same season. Jackson is back, but Louisville only returns four offensive starters, which is why he isn’t my pick to repeat this year.
Elsewhere, projected No. 1 overall pick Sam Darnold is included among the 11 contenders and he is joined by a two-time Top-5 finisher for the award in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. While the list isn’t littered with surprises, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett could be considered a bold choice in that his numbers were not exactly off the charts in 2016 but, in the same breath, Barrett has the pedigree and a talented roster at his disposal.
Lists like this can produce endless debate and, for a long time, Phil Steele has been one of the best minds in the business. Let the Heisman race begin in earnest.