Heisman Watch 2021: Predictions in Race for College Football's Prestigious Award

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 8, 2021

ATLANTA, GA  DECEMBER 04:  Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) drops back to pass during the SEC Championship college football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs on December 4th, 2021 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.  (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

In recent years, the Heisman Trophy has frequently been awarded to quarterbacks. The prestigious honor can go to any player in college football, as it goes to whoever had the most outstanding season, but that's mostly been QBs of late.

A quarterback had won the Heisman in nine of 10 years before Alabama's DeVonta Smith ended that run in 2020 by becoming the first wide receiver to win the award since 1991. But there's a good chance that the honor will be going back to a QB in 2021.

Three of the four finalists for this year's Heisman are quarterbacks. And we'll find out if one of them will win it on Saturday night at a ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Here's everything you need to know before this year's Heisman Trophy presentation.


Heisman Trophy Finalists

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama


Preview, Predictions

For much of the 2021 season, it seemed the Heisman Trophy race was wide open. There was no clear-cut front-runner but rather numerous players who appeared to have a legitimate chance of winning the award. However, that's changed a bit in recent weeks.

Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young has emerged as the favorite after a stellar finish to the regular season. He'll now look to become the first Crimson Tide QB to win the Heisman.

This is the third time in four years that an Alabama quarterback has been named a Heisman finalist, as Young joined Mac Jones (2020) and Tua Tagovailoa (2018), neither of whom won the award. However, neither Jones nor Tagovailoa was expected to take home the honor.

It'll be different for Young, who made an incredible Heisman push over the past three weeks. That stretch started when he threw for 559 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Arkansas on Nov. 20.

On Nov. 27, Young led Alabama to a come-from-behind victory at Auburn in the Iron Bowl. He threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns, leading a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter and then powering the Crimson Tide to victory in four overtimes.

But Young's most impressive performance yet came in the SEC Championship Game against a Georgia defense that had dominated every offense it had faced to that point. Young threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns while also adding a rushing score and leading the Tide to the SEC title.

"He's very calm, has a great disposition about what he's doing, doesn't get frustrated too easily, but also doesn't get too excited very easily," Alabama head coach Nick Saban told ESPN's Chris Low. "That's a rare combination, especially for a guy who's in his first year as a starter and playing against a defense as good as Georgia's."

The other two quarterbacks who are Heisman finalists also had strong seasons. Ohio State's C.J. Stroud has passed for 3,862 yards and 38 touchdowns. Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett has passed for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns.

Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson is an underdog to win the Heisman, as there's only been one defensive player to capture the award (Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson in 1997). But Hutchinson has had a strong season for the Big Ten champion Wolverines, collecting 58 tackles, 13 sacks and two forced fumbles.

But Young's numbers tell a clear story: He's the most deserving Heisman finalist. And that's because he's passed for 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns while also playing a challenging SEC West schedule.

So, finally, an Alabama quarterback is going to win the Heisman Trophy. Young should be victorious in a landslide, and then he'll focus on trying to lead the Crimson Tide to a second straight national title.

Predictions: 1. Young; 2. Stroud; 3. Pickett; 4. Hutchinson.