B/R's 2022 Heisman Trophy Rankings: Resetting the Field in Week 5
Four games into the college football season, the Heisman Trophy discussion needs to change.
To this point, preseason expectations have an impact on which players stick in the conversation. Although there is always a good-faith effort to highlight early standouts, sustainability is a concern.
While a breakout player—like Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III last season—may actually keep thriving, many others quickly fade after a strong opening game or two.
But as October arrives, the rankings must be less focused on initial impressions than actual performance. If a player with a disappointing start bounces back, they can eventually rejoin the 2022 Heisman debate. But right now, we have a month of games to consider.
The race, as a result, legitimately starts now.
Tier 4: We See You
These players have earned a mention because of efficient production. But will that continue? And, in keeping with longstanding Heisman tradition, could a team's lack of success hinder a player's candidacy?
Jalon Daniels, QB, Kansas: What a month for the Jayhawks. Daniels racked up 1,216 yards of offense with 15 total touchdowns to one interception, guiding Kansas to a 4-0 record and the brink of the program's first appearance in the AP Top 25 since 2009.
J.J McCarthy, QB, Michigan: Volume is the concern for McCarthy, who's only thrown 60 passes. However, he's notched an 80.0 percent completion rate with 11.6 yards per attempt and five touchdowns to zero interceptions while rushing for 78 yards and another score for the 4-0 Wolverines.
Spencer Sanders, QB, Oklahoma State: After an idle weekend, Oklahoma State is readying for Baylor in a rematch of the Big 12 Championship Game. Sanders enters the contest with 1,026 total yards and 13 touchdowns in three games. He'll be looking to atone for the seven interceptions he tossed opposite Baylor in two matchups last season.
Bo Nix, QB, Oregon: Since a nightmare performance during the opener against Georgia, the Auburn transfer has recovered nicely. In three wins—including over a ranked BYU team and at Washington State—Nix has accounted for 1,010 yards and 13 touchdowns with one interception. That blowout loss is a major blemish, but it's not exclusionary.
Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue: We don't know what to do with our hands. Purdue is 2-2, so perhaps you exclude Jones. More losses would do that anyway. But the Iowa transfer is pacing the nation in receptions (41), third in yards (533) and tied for the lead in touchdown catches (seven).
More to Know: Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall, Georgia TE Brock Bowers, Illinois RB Chase Brown, Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan, North Carolina QB Drake Maye, Ohio State WR Emeka Egbuka, Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda, Texas RB Bijan Robinson, Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen
Tier 3: Safely on the Radar
KJ Jefferson, QB, Arkansas: Had the Razorbacks made the go-ahead field goal to defeat Texas A&M, KJ Jefferson wouldn't be a remotely controversial selection. He's thrown for 941 yards and 9.7 per attempt, rushed for 274 yards and totaled 12 touchdowns against a tough schedule. One missed kick shouldn't alter his candidacy after only four games.
DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson: How's that for a statement game? The much-criticized QB quieted his critics with a 371-yard, five-touchdown day in a comeback win at Wake Forest. He's posted 1,033 passing yards with a solid 8.0 per throw and 10 scores to one interception, adding 169 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the fifth-ranked Tigers.
Blake Corum, RB, Michigan: The challenge for Corum is continuing his production as Michigan's competition gets tougher. But, uh, 243 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Maryland is a good start. Corum has scampered for 478 yards and an FBS-leading nine scores.
Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota: Ibrahim has crossed the century mark in every game this season so far. Most recently, he rushed for 103 yards and a score in Minnesota's rout of Michigan State. The veteran back ranks second nationally in both yards (567) and touchdowns (eight).
Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M: As a team, the Aggies haven't looked great. Achane, meanwhile, has scored in all four contests with a total of five touchdowns. Between his contributions on offense and as a kick returner, he's averaged 156.0 all-purpose yards.
More to Know: Mississippi State QB Will Rogers, Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson, Penn State QB Sean Clifford, USC WR Jordan Addison, Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman
Tier 2: High-End Contenders
Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama: Anderson continued his steady play against Vanderbilt, tallying five tackles for the fourth consecutive game. Most importantly for his Heisman resume, he provided immense disruption with three stops for loss and 2.5 sacks. The performance lifted his season totals to 7.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks.
Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma: Yet another loss to Kansas State is frustrating for Oklahoma, but that didn't keep Jalen Hurts from a runner-up Heisman finish in 2019. Gabriel has collected 1,215 offensive yards and 13 total touchdowns with zero interceptions in 117 pass attempts.
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee: Thanks to Hooker, the Vols are 4-0 with victories over Pitt and SEC rival Florida. He's posted a 71.7 percent completion rate, throwing for 1,193 yards and 10.6 per attempt with eight touchdowns and zero picks while rushing for another 175 yards and three scores. Tennessee will be leaning on Hooker to survive the October gauntlet ahead.
Cameron Rising, QB, Utah: Rising is probably the most surprising player here, but he's been productive all season. While the late interception at Florida certainly stings, he's totaled 1,070 yards and 10 touchdowns. It's too early to back off Rising.
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington: Penix recorded his fourth straight 300-yard game in Washington's win over Stanford. He's thrown for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns with a single interception in 143 attempts, and the Huskies have soared to 4-0.
Tier 1: The Favorites
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: On Saturday, Young diced a vulnerable Vanderbilt defense to the tune of 385 yards and four touchdowns. Hope you didn't overreact when he threw two interceptions (yet totaled four scores) in a blowout of Louisiana-Monroe one week earlier. Next up is Arkansas, which ranks 111th nationally with 8.3 yards allowed per pass.
Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia: This week, Bennett is given a "don't panic" pass. The quarterback had a quieter game in UGA's ugly victory over Kent State and tossed his first interception of the year. Still, he managed 285 total yards and rushed for a touchdown. Bennett's margin for error is small, but his initial excellence keeps him here.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State: The preseason favorite is matching his billing. Stroud scorched Wisconsin for 281 yards, five touchdowns and an interception as OSU cruised to a 52-21 triumph. He boosted his season numbers to 1,222 yards and 16 scores through the air with the one pick.
Caleb Williams, QB, USC: Similar to Young in Alabama's win at Texas, Williams didn't have a terrific performance. But with the game on the line at Oregon State, he threw the winning touchdown pass to Addison. Williams is up to 1,154 passing and rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.