Three (Legitimate) Sleeper Picks for the 2021 Heisman Trophy
College football is BACK! Just over a year ago, the atmosphere around college football was one of uncertainty and anxiety, but the season was completed to the FBS’ credit. Now, it’s time to bust out the cornhole sets, get our sweatshirts and turn on the grills to watch REAL college football.
As a result of the season, it’s time to predict the winner for the Heisman Trophy. Sure, household names like Bryce Young and Quin Ewers will be absorbing the spotlight, BUT that doesn’t mean some lesser known stars can steal the spotlight.
1. Jahan Dotson, WR, No. 19 Penn State
Yes, the Heisman is a quarterback award. Yes, NIL will likely play a massive role in how the winner is decided. Yes, the Nittany Lions had the worst start to a season in program history.
HOWEVER, there are signs that point to Dotson posting an even better campaign in the 2021 season and perhaps, bringing the Heisman back to Happy Valley for the first time since John Cappelletti.
First, if there’s any doubt about Dotson’s playmaking ability, look at this INSANE catch. With Dotson, it’s not just this play that shows he can steal the shine away from QBs. 2020 was by far his best season, racking up 884 yards and 8 TDs in just NINE games.
Add the fact that (at the moment) Beaver Stadium will be packed with its rabid fanbase, Dotson will have State College exploding, which will catapult him into the conversation for the Heisman Trophy.
2. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
HOP ON THE LANE TRAIN! That’s right folks, Lane Kiffin will start his second season in Oxnard with Corral under center, which sets up Corral for a monster year. Yes, Ole Miss succeeding in the SEC that’s primed to add Texas and Oklahoma is an extremely steep hill to climb, but expansion likely won’t be happening in the next year.
Thus, Corral gets one last ride to show his junior season wasn’t a fluke. In ten games as Kiffin’s starter, Corral completed an absurd 71 percent of his passes, averaging a tick over 10 yards per attempt. That’s a jump in ten percentage points compared to the year before, so the accuracy is there. The results were 29 touchdowns, almost tripling his total from his first two years COMBINED, but Corral does have one area to improve on-turnovers.
Last season, Corral finished second in the nation in thrown interceptions, which hurt The Rebels chances of moving up the SEC ladder, but with another offseason to learn Kiffin’s system, Corral will take another huge leap in his development, which will lead to Madden-like numbers for the senior QB.
3. Kyle Hamilton, S, No. 9 Notre Dame
That’s right, defense is getting some love! If any player can become the first defensive player to win the Heisman, it’s Hamilton. The 6’4” 220-pound safety from Atlanta flew all over the field for the Fighting Irish last season, racking up 67 total tackles.
One key component for Hamilton’s projected success is the departure of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, the second round pick of the Cleveland Browns. With Owusu-Koramoah heading to the NFL, head coach Brian Kelly and new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman will rely on Hamilton to lead a defensive unit that averaged less than 20 points per contest.
The Fighting Irish easily have one of the toughest schedules of the year, facing four ranked opponents in a five week gauntlet. Facing a grueling stretch of high-powered offenses like the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats and the No. 10 University of North Carolina Tar Heels, Hamilton can force his way into the Heisman discussion with big performances in primetime games.
His interception totals won’t be as high as first-round cornerbacks such as Caleb Farley or Jaycee Horn, but make no mistake about it, Hamilton has the sideline-to-sideline agility of Bobby Wagner and the IQ of Richard Sherman, making him the prime defensive candidate to bring the Heisman back to South Bend.
Now, let the debate in the comments COMMENCE!