Skip to main content

Best Individual Performances of the 2018-19 College Football Season

Best Individual Performances of the 2018-19 College Football Season

Best Individual Performances of the 2018-19 College Football Season

Heisman Trophy finalists — and should-have-been finalists — provided some of the most memorable moments of the 2018 college football season.

The campaign kicked off with some outstanding performances; tone-setters like Trayveon Williams rushing for 240 yards, a mark he'd just about bookend in bowl season. Some, like Memphis running back Darrell Henderson, began on historic paces. And when the calendar turned to 2019, the efforts of postseason stars like Justyn Ross and Josh Allen closed the year in style.

Honorable Mention

Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside vs. San Diego State, Aug. 31

6 receptions, 226 yards, 3 touchdowns

NC State RB Reggie Gallaspy at North Carolina, Nov. 24

27 carries, 129 yards, 5 touchdowns

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. vs. Michigan, Nov. 24

20-of-31 passing, 396 yards, 6 touchdowns; 7 carries, 34 yards

Memphis RB Darrell Henderson vs. Navy, Sept. 14

13 carries, 212 yards, 3 touchdowns

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts vs. Georgia, Dec. 1 (SEC Championship Game)

7-of-9 passing, 82 yards, 1 touchdown; 5 carries, 28 yards, 1 touchdown

UCLA LB/DE Keisean Lucier-South at Cal, Oct. 13

6 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 1 touchdown (scoop-and-score)

UCF QB McKenzie Milton at FAU, Sept. 21

21-of-32 passing, 306 yards, 3 touchdowns; 13 carries, 81 yards, 3 touchdowns

Purdue WR Rondale Moore vs. Ohio State, Oct. 20

12 receptions, 170 yards, 2 touchdowns

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray vs. Texas, Oct. 6

19-26 passing, 304 yards, 4 touchdowns (1 interception); 11 carries, 92 yards, 1 touchdown

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray at West Virginia, Nov. 23

20-of-27 passing, 364 yards, 3 touchdowns (1 interception); 9 carries, 114 yards, 1 touchdown

Appalachian State QB Zac Thomas at Charlotte, Sept. 8

14-of-14 passing, 295 yards, 3 touchdowns; 8 carries, 29 yards, 1 touchdown

18. Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven vs. Arizona State — Sept. 22

The nation's leading tackler roamed fields with all the singular focus of a Terminator seeking Sarah Connor. He was at his most destructive in Washington's early-season defeat of Arizona State, racking up a year's best 20 tackles. In addition, the ball-hawking Burr-Kirven forced two fumbles and recovered one.

17. Charlotte LB Juwan Foggie vs. Southern Miss — Oct. 27

The former wide receiver showed he can still catch the ball quite effectively, playing a critical role in Charlotte's 20-17 defeat of Southern Miss in Conference USA play. Foggie intercepted two passes in the 49ers' win, one of which he returned 79 yards for a touchdown.

Foggie added six tackles, including one for a loss, to go with his highlight-reel moment.

16. Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson at North Texas — Sept. 29

Any question that Ferguson has NFL credentials, one need look no further than his dominance at North Texas. Louisiana Tech slowed the prolific Mean Green offense en route to an upset win, with Ferguson setting the tone. He recorded four sacks and a pair of quarterback hurries, resulting in North Texas quarterback Mason Fine playing one of his least effective games in his standout career.

15. Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams vs. NC State — Dec. 31 (Gator Bowl)

In what was somewhat quietly one of the best individual seasons of 2018, Williams saved the best for last.

Williams — who rushed for more than 200 yards twice previously on the year, and had a three-touchdown game prior to the Gator Bowl — bombarded NC State with an onslaught for which it had no answer. He matched his high of three rushing touchdowns, and although his 236 yards fell a shade below the 240 he rolled up on FCS opponent Northwestern State, Williams' average of 12.4 yards per carry marked a season high.

14. Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta'amu at Arkansas — Oct. 13

A team going over 500 yards of total offense is a remarkable accomplishment. Ta'amu did it all by himself to lead Ole Miss in a rollicking, come-from-behind win over Arkansas this past October. Ta'amu completed 26-of-35 pass attempts for 387 yards, with another 141 rushing yards.

13. Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith at Western Michigan — Nov. 20

Smith came into the 2018 season already well established as one of college football's most fearsome pass rushers — he led the nation in sacks in 2017, after all. No amount of prior warning could have prepared Western Michigan for what Smith was set to unleash in their late-season meeting, however.

Smith went off for a season-high four sacks with five tackles for a loss, and ran back a fumble 85 yards for a touchdown. Northern Illinois lost, but this performance stands out as the crown jewel in Smith's All-American campaign.

12. Kentucky LB Josh Allen vs. Penn State — Jan. 1 (Citrus Bowl)

At the heart of Kentucky's breakout 2018 was its defense. And the soul of the Wildcats D was Allen. To that end, it's only right that the consensus All-American put an exclamation mark on Kentucky's season with a stellar individual showing.

Allen sacked Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley three times in Kentucky's thrilling, 27-24 Citrus Bowl win. He also came through with a blocked field goal that proved to be a difference-maker when the final horn sounded.

11. Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr. at Nebraska — Sept. 8

Although he was slowed by injury midway through the season, Shenault looked the part of Heisman Trophy candidate throughout the first half of the 2018 season. His best showing came early on in a renewed rivalry with Nebraska.

The versatile Shenault scored a touchdown both via reception and rush. As important as his scores were, Shenault was also there for some critical, first-down converting plays in Colorado's comeback win. Forty of his 177 yards receiving came on the touchdown grab, which doubles as one of the most spectacular plays of the 2018 season.

10. Clemson WR Justyn Ross in the College Football Playoff — Dec. 29, Jan. 7

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence left the College Football Playoff the national star of Clemson's championship run, but the freshman signal-caller could not have done it without a spectacular freshman hauling in passes.

Ross went for 148 receiving yards and two touchdowns to key Clemson's Cotton Bowl rout of Notre Dame. His encore was one of the most dazzling individual showings against an Alabama defense ever, as he hauled in 153 yards — almost all of which came in jaw-dropping fashion. Not since Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama had anyone so effectively taken down a herd of elephants.

9. Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. at Maryland — Nov. 17

Haskins may very well have booked his ticket to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony with his showing in Maryland. Haskins led the Buckeyes on a comeback from down two touchdowns in the second half, scoring five of his six touchdowns after the deficit.