Movie Quote of the Day:
“We go together like cocaine and waffles.”
– Cal Naughton Jr., Talladega Nights (2006)
The Heisman Trophy has been a quarterback’s award for the last 15 years, the position winning the award 13 times. The last running back to win the Heisman was Mark Ingram (above) in 2009. There are not very many quarterbacks this year in college football that I expect to make a push to win the Heisman, outside of Trevone Boykin from TCU and Cody Kessler from USC. However, college football is loaded with great running backs this season. I think 2015 is the year a running back wins the Heisman.
They came close last year. If Todd Gurley had been healthy or Melvin Gordon had a great showing in the Big Ten Championship, I think both of them would’ve had a great chance of winning the award. I expect the majority of players to be up for the 2015 Heisman will be running backs. Here’s my list of the top candidates:
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
Elliott finished the 2014-15 season with 1,878 yards, 18 touchdowns, and averaged 6.9 yards per carry, but he burst onto the scene late in the season for Ohio State, especially in the College Football Playoff. In the first eight games of the 2014 season, Elliott rushed for 709 yards, scored just five touchdowns, and averaged 5.8 yards per carry. In the next seven games Elliott was a completely different player. He rushed for 1,169 yards, 13 touchdowns, and averaged eight yards per carry. Elliott also had an impact in the passing game, catching 28 passes for 220 yards. He was unstoppable from the Big Ten Championship to the National Championship.
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Chubb was just a freshman for Georgia last season and was the backup to Todd Gurley for most of the season. He finished the season with 1,547 yards, 18 touchdowns, and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. When Gurley missed most of the 2014 season with a suspension and injury, Chubb made his presence known. During Gurley’s suspension, Chubb rushed for 671 yards, five touchdowns, and 7.75 yards per carry. When Gurley tore his ACL and missed the last three games, Chubb had 508 yards, five touchdowns, and averaged 8.6 yards per carry. Chubb was First-team All-SEC, and won SEC Freshman of the Year. Now that Gurley is in the NFL, he’s going to be the star in Georgia.
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Henry will finally get his chance to be the starter in Alabama for this season. I’ve always believed that Henry should’ve been the starting running back for the last two seasons in Alabama, but that’s another argument. Henry had just 990 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 5.8 yards per carry last season. However, that’s because of the fact he was the backup to T.J. Yeldon last season. Personally, I think Henry is the best running back in the SEC and I think he’s going to prove it this year. He’ll emerge as one of the best running backs in college football this season.
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Perine rushed for 1,713 yards, 21 touchdowns, and averaged 6.5 yards per carry as a freshman. He had his breakout game against West Virginia, where he had 34 carries, 242 yards, and four touchdowns. That’s still not Perine’s biggest moment from 2014. He broke the single game record for rushing yards (427), exactly one week after Melvin Gordon broke the same record. He’s the best running back in the Big 12 and could make a serious push for the Heisman.
James Conner, Pitt
It kills me to put a Pitt player on this list, but Conner is a really good player. He was First-team All-American last year. After everyone thought Jameis Winston was a lock for the award in the preseason, Conner was the one who went on to win ACC Player of the Year last year as sophomore. He had 1,765 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 5.9 yards per carry in 2014. With another year as the starting running back in Pitt’s offense, I’m expecting another big year from him. Again, it’s too bad he plays for Pitt.
Leonard Fournette, LSU
Fournette has drawn some early comparisons to Adrian Peterson ever since he came out of high school. He didn’t disappoint last year as a true freshman either. Despite being the backup to Kenny Hilliard, Fournette still had 187 carries, 1,034 yards, 10 touchdowns, and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. He’s going to be the starter for LSU this season; it only makes sense that his numbers will increase.
All stats from:
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