The SEC is littered with running backs who are early candidates to take home the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season. LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Alabama’s Derrick Henry are the obvious front-runners after getting off to tremendous starts. Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is a wild card in the Heisman conversation not only because he’s a monster in the trenches, but also because of his ability to play both sides of the ball.
But who is the leading candidate in the conference to be named the next Heisman winner in December? Here’s a look at what the top contenders have done thus far.
Fournette had a couple of Heisman moments against Auburn on Saturday. He ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries in LSU’s 45-21 victory. Fournette has 387 yards and six touchdowns on just 47 carries in his sophomore campaign. He has shown incredible speed, power and elusiveness against two SEC defenses.
Fournette won’t have the benefit of getting a 12-game regular season. He likely would have racked up some great numbers in the season opener against McNeese State, but it was cancelled because of weather. One game could be the difference between Fournette and the other Heisman hopefuls in this group.
Leonard Fournette TD run and Tray Matthews flip https://t.co/gpbsD9EiW6
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) September 19, 2015
2. Nick Chubb
Chubb has rushed for at least 120 yards in each of Georgia’s three games this season. He has 468 yards and four touchdowns thus far in his sophomore campaign.
Georgia is 3-0 but hasn’t really been tested by a great defense. Chubb has done his damage against Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Chubb will have his work cut out for him when Georgia faces some better defenses as the season continues.
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 20, 2015
3. Derrick Henry
Henry is a handful to bring down and also has deceiving speed. The junior has waited his turn to be the bell cow back in Alabama’s offense and has thrived in the role. He has 370 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Henry’s workload has increased each game. Henry had just 13 carries in the season opener, then ran the ball 18 times in Week 2 and had 23 attempts on Saturday against Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide will have to rely on Henry immensely as Alabama’s quarterback situation gets even murkier.
4. Robert Nkemdiche
Nkemdiche is a major wild card in the Heisman discussion, but his impact on the Ole Miss defense should not be mitigated. Nkemdiche is also a versatile candidate because he can play both sides of the ball.
The junior has 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one half-sack defensively. What makes Nkemdiche intriguing is what he can do offensively. He has a rushing and receiving touchdown to go with his defensive skills. Take a look at the acceleration on this touchdown pass.
Nkemdiche would have to become more prominent on defense to really be in the Heisman mix. His offensive numbers make him a fun, versatile player. But he will need to rack up some more tackles and sacks before being seriously considered in the Heisman discussion.