The first Heisman Trophy was awarded to Jay Berwanger as college football’s most outstanding player for his performance in the 1935 season. The first time either a redshirt or true freshman earned these honors was 2012, when Texas A&M’s Johnny “Football” Manziel took the country by storm with his performance as the Aggies’ quarterback. It did not take true freshman Jameis Winston all that long to double this number to two with a stellar season as quarterback for Florida State in its run to the 2013 National Championship.
Now that two freshmen have broken down this barrier with back-to-back Heisman Trophies, it’s time to sort through this year’s ranks of top high school recruits that might have a chance to make it three in a row. Doc’s Sports has listed a complete set of Heisman Trophy odds for the 2014 season to get bettors ready for all the action and excitement of another season of games.
Joe Mixon: Running Back, Oklahoma
Oklahoma is in excellent position to grab quite a bit of attention this season as a 2-3 favorite to win the Big 12, and its odds to win this year’s national title have been set at 9-1.
Mixon comes into the Sooners’ program as one of the most highly-touted running backs in recent memory, but his run at a Heisman may never even get off the ground after reports surfaced late last week that he faces a possible arrest for allegedly punching a woman in the face. If this is the case, it would be a tremendous waste of talent from a player that was in perfect position to make a huge impact on an Oklahoma title run as a freshman.
Travis Rudolph: Wide Receiver, Florida State
Winston will be back throwing the ball for the Seminoles this season, and he has been opened as a 4-1 odds-on favorite to become just the second two-time winner of the Heisman after Archie Griffin first achieved that feat in 1974 and 1975.
Rudolph comes on board as one of his newest weapons in the receiving corps. Given the departure of both Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw from last year’s offense, he should have a good shot at making an impact right away, starting with the season opener against Oklahoma State. Florida State was ranked 15th in the nation in passing yards last season and second in scoring.
Kyle Allen: Quarterback, Texas A&M
Allen may not be the second coming of Johnny Manziel, but head coach Kevin Sumlin may have found himself another big-time quarterback in this 6'3", 200-pound freshman. He comes in as the top recruit at the quarterback position in the 2014 class, and given his size and arm strength, he should get a legitimate shot at earning the starting nod sometime this season. This becomes especially true if quarterback Kenny Hill remains indefinitely suspended from the team.
Max Browne: Quarterback, USC
Browne comes into this season as a redshirt freshman after being named the top-rated recruit at the quarterback position for the class of 2013. At 6'5" and 215 pounds, he definitely has the prototypical size to make an immediate impact at the quarterback position. However, he is still competing with incumbent Cody Kessler for the starting nod. New head coach Steve Sarkisian has been tasked with turning this program around, which means that whichever player gives USC the best chance to win will get the call.
Leonard Fournette: Running Back, LSU
There is a major buzz surrounding Fournette in Baton Rouge as Les Miles opens summer camp for his Tigers. He has already caught the eye of the oddsmakers, who have listed the 6'1", 225-pound running back at 66-1 odds to win this year’s Heisman.
LSU was ranked 29th in the nation last season in rushing yards per game (202.3) behind both Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue, but those two backs are trying to extend their careers in the NFL. This means that Fournette should get the opportunity to fill the void from Day 1.
The Tigers open the 2014 season with a high-profile matchup against Wisconsin in the Texas Kickoff Classic, so the freshman phenom that has already been compared to Adrian Peterson will have the perfect platform to catch the Heisman voters’ attention right out of the gate.