USA Today Sports
Favorite: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (+500)
Elliott came on strong at the end of the season and won the offensive MVP in the National Championship Game. Elliott was a terror in the last three games of the year as he scored a total of eight rushing TDs and averaged 232 rushing yards per game. Ohio State has four starters returning on the offensive line so that means Elliott will likely pick up where he left off. A negative to picking Elliott is the starpower that Ohio State has at QB. Any of the three QBs they have could have a strong enough year to win the Heisman and/or the story of the QB position could take the spotlight away from Elliott.
Value Pick: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (+1000)
Chubb started out the 2014 season as Georgia’s fourth-string running back and finished second in the SEC in rushing. After playing sparingly in the first five games and averaging 44.8 yards per game, Chubb got his chance against Missouri and from that point on he averaged 165 rushing yards per game over the last eight games. Georgia returns four offensive linemen and their new offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, will likely lean heavily on the run as the Dawgs must replace their starting QB Hutson Mason.
Value Pick: Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn (+2000)
The Tigers had an off year at 8-5 so some are underestimating them but there should be no offensive drop-off when the Tigers replace Nick Marshall with Jeremy Johnson. In 2013, Johnson saw action in five games and completed 70 percent of his passes and had six TD to two INT. Last season, Johnson’s stats were even better as he completed over 75 percent of his passes and had three TD vs zero INT. Johnson will also have a huge weapon in D’haquille Williams. Williams showed flashes of being a superstar in 2014 and with Johnson running the offense he should get more opportunities in 2015.
Longshot: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (+3000)
A quarterback has won the last five Heisman Trophies. When I look around college football there is no one that impressed me as much as Watson did last year at Clemson as a true freshman. Watson didn’t have the benefit of being an early enrollee but despite that he got playing time in their opener against Georgia and outplayed his veteran competition in that game. Watson finished the season completing 67.9 percent of his passes and had a sparkling TD to INT ratio of 14:2. He was also able to get it done on the ground as he led Clemson with five rushing TDs. The only thing that held Watson back was injuries. With Jameis Winston going to the NFL, it could be Clemson’s chance to dethrone them and if so Watson’s star will shine bright if he can stay healthy.