Heisman Race 2017: List of Finalists for Coveted Trophy Announced

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2017

This photo taken Nov. 18, 2017, shows Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. While the Sooners have already clinched a spot in the Big 12 championship game, they need to beat West Virginia to stay in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

The finalists for this year's Heisman Trophy have been announced, featuring a small field with some familiar names for those who follow college football.

Baker Mayfield is the Heisman favorite after he put together an outstanding season for Oklahoma, but the other finalists have a shot for the top individual honor in the sport as well.

Big names like Saquon Barkley, J.T. Barrett and Rashaad Penny all had great seasons, but they were unable to get an exclusive ticket to New York City. 

Here are the 2017 Heisman finalists, with the winner set to be announced Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. ET.

                       

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners gestures to the crowd after Senior Day announcements before the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on November 25, 2017 in
Brett Deering/Getty Images
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Only four players in college football history have finished in the top four in the Heisman voting in three different seasons. Mayfield is now the fifth, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:

The senior finished in fourth in 2015 before climbing up to third in 2016, throwing 76 touchdown passes between those two seasons. He has been even better in 2017, improving his efficiency while leading the Sooners to a Big 12 title.

Through 13 games, Mayfield has 4,340 passing yards and 41 touchdowns with only five interceptions for an NCAA-best 203.8 rating. He also has five rushing touchdowns on the year.

While some voters might have concerns after he made multiple apologies for on-field incidents this year, he has undoubtedly been one of the best players in the country.

Considering some oddsmakers have already pulled Heisman odds due to Mayfield being too large of a favorite, per John Taylor of College Football Talk, he is likely to raise the trophy Saturday night.

                 

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

David Stephenson/Associated Press

The defending Heisman winner will have a chance to become the second player ever to win the award twice.

While it doesn't seem like he put up the eye-popping numbers that he did a year ago, Lamar Jackson was nearly as good in 2017 as he was last season. At the time of his coronation at last season's ceremony, he had 3,390 passing yards, 1,538 rushing yards and 51 total touchdowns.

This season, Jackson has 3,489 passing yards, 1,443 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns. He also has a higher Total QBR and completion percentage than he did last season.

Andrea Adelson of ESPN credited his ongoing improvement:

What has hurt his candidacy is the team around him, as Louisville struggled its way to an 8-4 record. Considering this is an individual award, however, Jackson still has a chance to take it home.   

         

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

No running back in the country was more consistent this season than Bryce Love, who rushed for over 100 yards in 11 of 12 games this season.

Including his 125 yards in the Pac-12 title game against USC, the junior came through with 1,973 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, showcasing his ability as arguably the best pure runner in the nation. Considering he was averaging 198 yards per game in the first seven weeks before he suffered an ankle injury, it's difficult to imagine what he could have done had he stayed fully healthy all season.

With 8.3 yards per carry, he had an impressive year nonetheless. Those incredible numbers earned him a trip to New York City.

Bryan Fischer of College Football Talk noted the recent trend of top players at Stanford:

Andrew Luck, Christian McCaffrey and Toby Gerhart each finished second, but Love will try to break that streak and win the award.