Each week, The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, breaks down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award. This year’s Heisman will be presented at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 on ESPN.
1. DERRICK HENRY
Alabama junior running back
WHY HE’S HERE: There’s a lot of volatility to September Heisman ratings, but it’s been a long time since we would consider three running backs to be the top three candidates at any point. Drawing the most respect this week is Henry. He didn’t crack the 100-yard mark last Saturday in Alabama’s 37-10 win over outmanned Middle Tennessee, but made his carries count with 18 carries for 96 yards and three touchdowns. In two games, Henry has 31 carries for 243 yards and six touchdowns, tied for the FBS lead. The season-opening win over Wisconsin was Henry’s big splash, but he has a chance to make an even bigger statement in Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.
2. NICK CHUBB
Georgia sophomore running back
WHY HE’S HERE: Chubb rumbled for 189 yards on 21 carries last week against Vanderbilt (he also had two catches for 13 yards), though cruising through the Commodores isn’t exactly going to get you into the College Football Hall of Fame. Still, he averaged a robust 9.9 yards per carry, which is hard to do in a practice drill. For the season, Chubb has 309 yards rushing and two touchdowns, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. While the Vandy game isn’t going to move the needle that much, Chubb has a chance to build on it with a big show against run defense-challenged South Carolina. The Gamecocks are surrendering 207.5 yards per game rushing. Chubb came into the season with more name recognition than any other RB candidate, but the expectations are big.
3. DALVIN COOK
Florida State sophomore running back
WHY HE’S HERE: Poor Ray Lawry. Old Dominion’s running back leads the nation with 438 yards rushing through two games. But he’s not on this list and Dalvin Cook is, because of level of competition and publicity. The recent Heisman win for former FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is likely going to give Cook a lift. He’ll draw attention from voters because of who he plays for and who he follows into the Heisman hunt. Cook is doing his part, too. After 19 carries for 156 yards and two touchdowns in week one against Texas State, he had 30 carries for 266 yards and three TDs last week against South Florida. That’s 422 yards overall.
ON THE RADAR (alphabetically)
Trevone Boykin, TCU senior QB
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State junior RB
Leonard Fournette, LSU sophomore RB
Cody Kessler, Southern California senior QB
Tanner Mangum, Brigham Young freshman QB