After “Week 0” of college football season, the action will really kick into gear this weekend. Each Monday from now to the 2018 Heisman Trophy presentation on December 8, we’ll have our weekly 2018 Heisman watch. In case you missed our full top 25 Heisman candidate countdown, you can check out #1 and the entire list here.
1. Bryce Love | Stanford RB | Senior
Bryce Love could have left school last spring and he probably would have been an early-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, he remained at Stanford to continue his education and give it one last go for the Cardinal. Last season, Love had 263 carries for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns while dealing with a high-ankle sprain for much of the season; this year, it’s not out of the question for Love to push Barry Sanders’ NCAA record of 2,628 rushing yards in a season. Stanford should be competing for a conference title, and Love—who has great vision, patience, elusiveness, ability to break tackles, and gamebreaking speed—will be a big part of it.
2. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB | Sophomore
As a true freshman at a school with a rich history of running backs and running the football, Jonathan Taylor immediately received a heavy workload (299 carries for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns). Entering 2018, the sophomore should be near the forefront of the Heisman discussion all season. Taylor is going to be handed the ball a ton every week, and he could be more involved as a receiver after eight receptions in 2017. Also, Wisconsin is a consensus top-five team in the nation entering September, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t be in the mix for a Big Ten title at the end of the year.
3. Trace McSorley | Penn State QB | Senior
Regarded by some as “this year’s Baker Mayfield,” Trace McSorley enters the 2018 season as arguably the best player in the nation. Penn State’s senior quarterback already holds the record for most passing touchdowns (59) in school history after totals of 29 and 28 the last two seasons, but he might be asked to do more now that Saquon Barkley is in the NFL. McSorley is 22-5 with a Big Ten championship as a starting quarterback, showing that he shines in big games along the way. The Nittany Lions must take care of business against a very tough Big Ten slate, but they get Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin all at home.
4. J.K. Dobbins | Ohio State RB | Sophomore
There was a lot of hype surrounding J.K. Dobbins last season, and the then-true-freshman delivered on the hype, rushing for 1,403 yards and seven touchdowns on 194 rushing attempts for the Buckeyes. Mike Weber is still in the mix, but Dobbins is likely to lead the rushing offense for Ohio State, who is expected to compete for another College Football Playoff appearance this season. Dobbins packs a ton of all-around ability into his relatively-small frame. He’ll likely be a big Heisman factor if he gets enough work.
5. D’Andre Swift | Georgia RB | Sophomore
This makes it three sophomore running backs in the top five of the initial 2018 Heisman Watch, which indicates the talent at the position. Sony Michel (a first-round pick of the Patriots) and Nick Chubb (a second-round pick of the Browns) are both gone, which means D’Andre Swift is going to get plenty of opportunities to do damage for Georgia—and he only needs a few chances given his immense big-play potential. Hopefully Swift is ready to go for the season opener despite his groin injury, but the most important thing is that he’s 100% for the rest of the season.