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AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

2018 Heisman Candidate Countdown #3: Trace McSorley

Trace McSorley has been one of college football’s most underrated players over the past couple of seasons, and he should be near the top of all Heisman Trophy shortlists heading into 2018.


#25: Jalen Hurts

#24: Adrian Martinez

#23: Travis Etienne

#22: Shane Buechele

#21: Nick Fitzgerald

#20: Rodney Anderson

#19: Justice Hill

#18: A.J. Brown

#17: Damien Harris

#16: Drew Lock

#15: McKenzie Milton

#14: Khalil Tate

#13: Will Grier

#12: Justin Herbert

#11: Dwayne Haskins

#10: Shea Patterson

#9: Tua Tagovailoa

#8: Kelly Bryant

#7: Jarrett Stidham

#6: Jake Fromm

#5: D’Andre Swift

#4: J.K. Dobbins


McSorley is arguably the best quarterback in the nation heading into his senior season at Penn State. He has a legitimate chance to make it two straight “shorter” quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy.


Why he can win it

Even with Saquon Barkly (now in the NFL) in the backfield, the Nittany Lions have put a lot on McSorley’s plate, and he has handled it very well. McSorley’s overall numbers looked about the same from his sophomore season to his junior season, but he took a jump in completion percentage from 57.9% to 66.5%. As a senior, expect him to play lights out all season as Penn State looks to make the College Football Playoff. McSorley loses some key pieces on offense in addition to Barkley—like tight end Mike Gesicki and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton—but he makes the guys around him better, and players should step up in bigger roles. Penn State figures to be in contention for a Big Ten title and the Playoff, in which case McSorley would be near the top of every Heisman list. The Nittany Lions host Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin instead of going on the road to face them.


Why he won’t win it

Perhaps the loss of key skill position players on offense (remember, they also lost wide receiver Chris Godwin to the NFL after the 2016 season), along with offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead taking the Mississippi State head coaching job will be difficult to overcome. Also, the Big Ten is probably the toughest conference in college football, even with home matchups against some of the conference’s top teams.


What needs to happen

Penn State must win the Big Ten or make the College Football Playoff, and McSorley needs to continue to play the way he has while putting the ball in the end zone through the air a few more times this season.


Stat projection

276/406 (68.0%) | 3,978 PASS YDS | 37 PASS TD | 8 INT

138 CAR | 497 RUSH YDS | 9 RUSH TD | 3.6 AVG


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