Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma Duo Headline 2016 Heisman Class
Louisville’s Lamar Jackson headlines a Heisman class that could be one of the most wide-open in recent years. For weeks, it seemed that Jackson was going to run away with the award after an early season stretch that saw him rack up 45 touchdowns and a slew of highlight reel plays in his first nine games. But the sophomore had slowed down the stretch, throwing just four touchdowns to go with three interceptions as the Cardinals lost two of their final three games of the season. As such, he’ll have plenty of company in New York with five finalists and no one really sure who will take home the hardware.
Two Oklahoma Sooners will be making the trip as quarterback Baker Mayfield and receiver Dede Westbrook both made the cut. Mayfield, who has already announced he will be back next year, has completed over 71 percent of his passes this year for nearly 3,700 yards and a 38/8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Many of those receiving touchdowns have gone the way of Westbrook. After a slow start (just 154 yards in his first three games), the senior exploded for 1,311 yards and 16 touchdowns in his last nine games.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who finished third in last year’s Heisman voting, will be making a return trip to New York after leading the Tigers back into the college football playoff. The junior has thrown for more than 3,900 yards and 37 touchdowns, including five in a 42-36 win over Jackson and Louisville in early October.
Rounding out the list of finalists is Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, the leader of a Wolverine defense that was second nationally in both total and scoring defense and first against the pass. But Peppers is a do-it-all player who leads the nation in punt return yards and has been used on offense as a tailback. He is the first defensive player to get a Heisman invite since Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o in 2012.
Jackson certainly lost momentum down the stretch. The question is did anyone else do enough to catch him? We'll find out when the Heisman Trophy is awarded Dec. 10.