Alabama teammates Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask were announced as Heisman Trophy finalists on Thursday night.
Unlike in 2019, when LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was the prohibitive favorite to win, the voting figures to be much closer without a clear front-runner emerging from the field. The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Jan. 5 in a virtual ceremony that will begin on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.
Take your pick from the Alabama finalists. Wide receiver Smith made his case over the final month, stepping up with teammate Jaylen Waddle out and showing his ability to make explosive plays in space. Smith leads the country with 98 receptions and 1,511 yards receiving, while catching 17 touchdown passes.
Quarterback Jones said this of his teammate: “He’s the most electric player in college football. He means the most to us here at Alabama football. You can watch the games and see that, what type of person he is with how he plays.”
Smith is hoping to become the first non-quarterback to win the Heisman since Alabama running back Derrick Henry in 2015. The most recent wide receiver to win the Heisman was Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.
Jones, a redshirt junior, started four games last season after Tua Tagovailoa got hurt and had a dazzling performance in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan. But he had to beat out former five-star prospect Bryce Young to win the starting job for this season.
And then he was off, showing his comfort in the system, racking up yards, touchdowns and points. Jones has the best skill players in college football surrounding him, and that includes Waddle — an early Heisman hopeful until an ankle injury in late October forced him out for the season.
DeVonta Smith had 15 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama’s 52-46 win over Florida in the SEC title game. UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images
Over the final four games of the season, Jones and Smith made it clear they were among the best players in the country and put an exclamation point on that statement in a 52-46 victory over the Gators in the SEC championship game.
Jones threw for 418 yards and five touchdowns, and Smith had 15 catches for 184 yards and two scores. In all, Jones has thrown for 3,739 yards and 32 touchdowns, with just four interceptions, to lead No. 1 Alabama.
Only one school has had teammates finish 1-2 in Heisman history: 1945 Army (Doc Blanchard won it, and Glenn Davis finished second).
With teammate Najee Harris announced Thursday as having finished No. 5 in the voting, Alabama is the first team with three players in the top five in the Heisman vote since Army in 1946.
Smith and Jones also are finalists for the Maxwell Award, given to the best player in the nation.
So is Lawrence, 34-1 as a starter with the Tigers. He is just the second player in Clemson history to become a Heisman finalist, joining Deshaun Watson (2015 and 2016). Though Lawrence’s stats are not as prolific as Jones’, all Lawrence does is win. He also proved just how valuable he is to the Tigers in their 34-10 win over Notre Dame in the ACC championship game last weekend.
Lawrence missed the first matchup with the Irish as he recovered from the coronavirus. Clemson lost in double overtime. In the rematch, Lawrence had 412 yards of total offense and scored three total touchdowns in a game that was never really close.
After the game, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney started the lobbying on behalf of his quarterback. “Here’s what I would say, it would be a crying shame if the Heisman didn’t attach their name to Trevor Lawrence,” Swinney said. “I know that’s become a stat award, but if you watch college football and you don’t know that’s the best player in the country? I don’t know what you’re looking at.”
In nine games this season, Lawrence has thrown for 2,753 yards with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions, and added 211 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Trask has put together one of the best seasons in Florida school history, and that is saying something considering three Heisman winners played quarterback there. In 11 games, Trask threw a school-record 43 touchdown passes, which leads the nation by 11. Trask also leads the nation in passing yards per game (375.0), and set a school record with 4,125 yards passing — including a school-record five 400-yard passing games.
Despite Trask throwing for 408 yards and three touchdowns against Alabama, Florida lost the game to move to 8-3. Two consecutive losses to end the season, including one to LSU, might have had an impact on his chances to win.
Also announced Thursday were players who finished in the top 10 in the Heisman voting. They are: No. 5 Harris; No. 6 Iowa State running back Breece Hall; No. 7 Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields; No. 8 BYU quarterback Zach Wilson; No. 9 Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book; No. 10 Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.