After Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson made the list yesterday, Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill comes in one spot ahead of him on the 2018 Heisman Trophy candidate countdown.
#25: Jalen Hurts
#24: Adrian Martinez
#23: Travis Etienne
#22: Shane Buechele
#21: Nick Fitzgerald
#20: Rodney Anderson
Last season, Hill was a big part of the Cowboys’ offense as he complemented future NFL draft selections Mason Rudolph and James Washington. He’s now the last remaining member of the trio in Stillwater.
Why he can win it
With new quarterback Taylor Cornelius under-center for OK State, Mike Gundy will likely rely on Hill more than he did with the experienced Rudolph at quarterback. Hill went from 206 carries as a freshman to 268 last season, and it’s possible he gets up over 300 carries in 2018. He isn’t a big running back, but Hill is explosive and plays a lot bigger than his size. Also, the Big 12 should be wide-open this season with Baker Mayfield leaving Oklahoma, and Hill might be the guy to lead Oklahoma State to a conference title.
Why he won’t win it
Cornelius has had to wait his turn to play quarterback for the Cowboys, and he might be ready to step right in and keep the passing offense humming like it was with Rudolph. If Oklahoma State is confident enough to put a lot on Cornelius’ arm, Hill might not get enough of an increase in usage this season. And sophomore running back J.D. King might cut into Hill’s workload and make this more of a committee backfield.
What needs to happen
Hill needs to remain the clear top option out of the backfield for Oklahoma State and become the clear focal point of the offense. He needs to be among the nation’s leaders in rushing, and OK State needs to compete for a Big 12 title.
280 CAR | 1,596 RUSH YDS | 19 RUSH TD | 5.7 AVG
34 REC | 241 REC YDS | 1 REC TD | 7.1 AVG