It’s never too early to talk about college football, or Heisman Trophy futures. With Week 0 fast approaching, here are three Heisman candidates who are worthy of a bet before their odds shrink.
D.J. Uiagalelei, QB Clemson (+1100)
These odds are way off, as I project the Clemson Tigers quarterback to be the favorite for this award. Not only did we see flashes of greatness in his two starts for Clemson last season, in which he threw for 781 yards and four touchdowns on a 69% completion percentage, D.J. Uiagalelei will be on a team that brings back 92% of their defensive production.
Clemson is the clear best team heading into 2021, with a manageable schedule and clear path to the College Football Playoff. With a host of weapons including the return of Justyn Ross, who missed all of 2020 due to injury, the Tigers should put up points and blowout opponents.
A Week 1 showdown with Georgia looms as an early opportunity for Uiagalelei to stake his claim as the best player in college football. Get in on the QB before this number drops.
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Casey Thompson, QB Texas (+4000)
We saw flashes of greatness in the second half of the Alamo Bowl, when Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson entered for senior QB Sam Ehlinger, tossing four touchdowns on eight completions for 170 yards.
While Thompson hasn’t been named the Week 1 starter yet, I expect him to take the role and run with it behind new coach Steve Sarkisian’s high-powered offense.
Sarkisian comes from building a juggernaut offense at Alabama that generated two Heisman finalists last season in Mac Jones and the eventual winner, DeVonta Smith.
Thompson’s number is so long due to his unofficial starter status, but also the immense talent of running back Bijan Robinson, who’s 30-1 to win the award. However, with his dual threat ability, I expect Thompson to steal the national limelight and become the favorite of the two.
UT has two early-season non-conference challenges, at home against 2020 Sun Belt winner Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas on the road (favored by 3.5).
They do face betting favorite Spencer Rattler and Oklahoma State on a neutral site in the Red River Showdown, while also traveling to Ames to take on preseason Top 10 team Iowa State, but the opportunity is there for Thompson to officially deem Texas “back” and bring home the hardware.
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Emory Jones, QB Florida (+4000)
With a big arm and scramble ability, Jones could shine moving into the starting role for UF. He had as many rushes as pass attempts last season, 32, but averaged nearly seven yards per rush.
Now with a full offseason to game plan around him, expect coach Dan Mullen to use his deep ball as more of a weapon.
It also helps for the Gators that they play Alabama in Week 3 at home, when the Crimson Tide are more ripe for an upset as they build around new quarterback Bryce Young. After that, a road trip to Baton Rouge to play the LSU Tigers as well as a late season matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs are big-time matchups for the Gators to cement themselves as CFP contenders.
However, Jones seems worth a flier given the flashes he’s shown in limited reps, and a schedule that gives him a runway to shoot up the Heisman betting board.
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