Heisman Watch: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates for 2020

Even with all of the uncertainty surrounding this season, Trevor Lawrence remains the favorite to win the stiff-armed trophy

College football's 2020 Heisman race will be unusual with four conferences of players - including the Big Ten and Pac-12 - not participating this fall. However, there are still plenty of big names in the mix to win the most presitgous award in college football. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence tops the Heisman rankings, with Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler coming in second. Lawrence is joined by teammate Travis Etienne as one of the favorites to win this award in 2020, but Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard are also in the mix. Which players are expected to push for the Heisman Trophy in 2020? Here are Athlon's top 10 candidates, plus a few names to watch:


Heisman Watch: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates for 2020

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Lawrence played his way out of the Heisman discussion early last season by throwing eight interceptions in his first seven games, but he was still one of the best players in the nation and will be expected to lead Clemson to a spot in the College Football Playoff for a third straight season.


2. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Rattler has yet to start a game in his collegiate career, but it’s a safe bet that the starting quarterback for a Lincoln Riley-coached team will post Heisman-worthy numbers. Rattler is a former five-star recruit who completed 7-of-11 passing attempts in mop-up duty as a true freshman.


3. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas

Texas didn’t live up to expectations in 2019, but Ehlinger enjoyed a solid junior season, throwing for 3,663 yards with 32 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while adding 663 yards and seven scores on the ground. He will be in the Heisman mix if the Longhorns contend in the Big 12.


4. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

Hubbard led the nation in rushing (161.1 ypg) and rushing attempts (25.2 apg) in 2019 and was the only player in the nation to rush for at least 100 yards in every game against an FBS opponent. He returns for his junior season with a chance to top the 2,000-yard mark again.


5. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Harris is yet another high-profile running back who eschewed the NFL Draft for a final season of college football. Harris, Alabama’s leading rusher in 2019 (1,224 yards) could be featured even more prominently this fall now that Tua Tagovailoa has moved on.


6. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Etienne has posted absurd numbers the past two years as Clemson’s No. 1 running back — 3,272 total rushing yards on averages of 8.1 (2018) and 7.8 (2019) yards per carry — yet isn’t often mentioned as one of the top players in the nation. That should change for the Louisiana native, who surprised the college football world by returning for his senior season.


7. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

The centerpiece of Mack Brown’s rebuilding effort at North Carolina, Howell was very good as a true freshman, leading the ACC in yards passing (3,641) and touchdown passes (38) as the Tar Heels jumped from two wins to seven. He should be even better as a sophomore.


8. Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame

Book was solid in his first full season as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, throwing for 3,034 yards with 34 TDs and six interceptions and adding 546 yards rushing. The Irish will need some pass catchers to emerge after the loss of wide receiver Chase Claypool and tight end Cole Kmet.


9. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

Trask was pressed into the starting job last fall when Feleipe Franks was lost for the year due to injury. The Texas native proceeded to throw for 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns to just seven picks. With Trask entrenched as the full-time starter, and Florida's chance to push for the SEC East title, the senior should have plenty of opportunities to garner exposure in the Heisman battle in 2020.


10. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Chase is the best receiver in college football, but he will have to develop a connection with new quarterback Myles Brennan. With Joe Burrow directing LSU's high-powered offense last fall, Chase grabbed 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.


Others to Watch


Myles Brennan, QB, LSU

Micale Cunningham, QB, Louisville

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

D'Eriq King, QB, Miami

Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia

Bo Nix, QB, Auburn

Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama


Not Playing This Fall But Would be a Contender


Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State

Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska

Tanner Morgan, QB, Minnesota

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

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