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Heisman Watch: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates for 2020

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson Tigers Football

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson Tigers Football

It's already been an unusual 2020 college football season, as initial postponements by four conferences - including the Big Ten and Pac-12 - have resulted in revamped and truncated schedules across the nation. The good news is that all of the conferences are set to return to the field at some point this fall, meaning that most of the big names are in the mix to win the most prestigious award in college football. There are a few players that would have been contenders sitting this season out but plenty of candidates remain.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence tops Athlon Sports' Heisman rankings, with Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, last year's runner-up to Joe Burrow, checking at No. 2. Oklahoma redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler is looking to continue the Sooners' run of Heisman finalists while fellow Big 12 standouts Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard also are 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. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Fields was masterful in his first season at Ohio State, tossing 41 touchdowns (and only three interceptions) while averaging a stellar 9.2 yards per passing attempt. He added 484 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Expect more of the same in Year 2 under Ryan Day.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

Slovis began 2019 as the Trojans’ third-string quarterback but was forced into duty in Week 2 and delivered a 377-yard, three-TD, zero-INT masterpiece in a 45–20 win over Stanford. He ended the season second in the Pac-12 in passing with 291.8 yards per game.

9. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

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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. 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.

Others to Watch

Myles Brennan, QB, LSU

Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State

Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville

Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

D'Eriq King, QB, Miami

Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska

Tanner Morgan, QB, Minnesota

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

Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon