It’s still Lamar Jackson’s world that we’re living in, but Jabrill Peppers might be back-flipping his way into the picture, along with a track star disguised as a running back, Dalvin Cook.
So is there room in the 2016 Heisman race for an SEC player? That’s been the question since Leonard Fournette limped out of contention early this fall – although maybe he’s not quite done? – and for now, we say yes. Here’s how it looks after Week 9:
WORTH A VOTE
QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama: OK, kid, this is the big moment. Hurts has amazed with his poise to this point, the true freshman producing more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns in eight games. He delivered 805 yards and 10 touchdowns against three consecutive ranked opponents before a bye week. But now comes Saturday’s visit to Death Valley to face an LSU team that has won three straight and has some athletic freaks on defense. Should he rise to the challenge again and help keep the Crimson Tide undefeated, the Heisman hype will deservedly grow.
WORTH A LOOK
QB Trevor Knight, Texas A&M: Alabama’s absurd defense took a substantial bite out of any Heisman hopes he had two weeks ago. Knight steadied himself with a solid showing in a blowout win over New Mexico State and now has a chance to pad his stats against a porous Mississippi State defense. His 2,397 total yards and 22 touchdowns are strong enough that he might be able to get back in the race with a strong finish. Games against Ole Miss and LSU remain, and if the Aggies don’t lose again, that’ll certainly help.
DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee: The Volunteers’ three consecutive losses aren’t on him. He had three sacks and two hurries in Saturday’s loss to South Carolina. He leads the SEC in tackles for loss (14 ½) and sacks (9), and continues stamping his name in the Tennessee record book with 47 ½ career tackles for loss and 29 sacks. Were the Vols as good as their preseason hype, Barnett would have a real case for being on some ballots.
Derek Barnett causing problems for Bama in the 1st half. pic.twitter.com/R2Y19NlRKH
— WBIR Sports (@WBIRSports) October 15, 2016
DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama: Like Hurts, he had last week off. But now comes a major opportunity against Leonard Fournette and a resurgent LSU offense. After Allen’s Heisman moment – the Superman sack against Texas A&M – he has 10 hurries, six sacks, two fumble-return touchdowns and a blocked kick this season. Not quite as do-it-all as Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, but no less impactful for the Crimson Tide.
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville: Yawn. Just another 361 yards passing, 90 yards rushing and four touchdowns, including the winning, 29-yarder with 13 seconds left to save the Cardinals from a crushing upset at Virginia. Add that “Heisman moment” to Jackson’s 2,522 yards passing, 998 yards rushing and 38 total TDs in eight games and his grip on the stiff-arm trophy only tightens.
— KY High Football (@KYHighFootball) October 29, 2016
RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State: Too bad his team hasn’t won more. Cook lit up Clemson on Saturday with 169 yards and four touchdowns on just 19 carries, recording his fifth game of 180-plus yards from scrimmage in eight tries. The most explosive back in the country is up to 1,069 yards rushing, 371 yards receiving and 12 total touchdowns and is absolutely worthy of an invitation to New York.
LB Jabrill Peppers, Michigan: How’s this for a defensive player stating his Heisman case: he rushed five times for 24 yards and a touchdown, caught a pass, returned a punt and kickoff, made seven tackles, two for loss, including a sack, and scooped and scored on a failed two-point conversion attempt by rival Michigan State. He now has 559 all-purpose yards, four touchdowns, 48 tackles (32 solo) and 12 for loss. Peppers’ candidacy is gaining steam.
— Chad Kent (@Chad_Kent) October 31, 2016
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson: Another imperfect-yet-impressive performance: 430 total yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in an escape at Florida State. He’s thrown six picks in the last four games, but the Tigers remain undefeated. The bad this season (10 total interceptions) has been offset by plenty of good: 2,659 total yards, 23 touchdowns and all the clutch plays Clemson has needed to stay in the College Football Playoff race.
RB Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State: Quietly, the leading rusher in college football keeps cranking out big games. This time, it was 32 carries for 223 yards in a blowout win at Utah State for the 7-1 Aztecs. Pumphrey already has 1,469 yards (6.6 per carry) and 13 touchdowns. He’s produced four 200-yard games this season and 5,747 rushing yards in his career (fifth-most in NCAA history).
Donnel Pumphrey has some serious moves. https://t.co/9SJSgTqYAB
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 29, 2016
QB Jake Browning, Washington: As the Huskies keep winning, this kid deserves some love. Even after a ho-hum last game at Utah. He’s averaging a modest 237 yards passing per game, but he’s up to 32 total touchdowns with only three interceptions. He’s also second in the country in QB rating.
IF WE VOTED TODAY
- Lamar Jackson
- Jabrill Peppers
- Dalvin Cook