LSU running back Leonard Fournette appeared to separate himself as the clear-cut front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, but the gap has quickly closed.
A handful of players are in contention for the premier college football award, and the final eight weeks of the season will provide a bevy of opportunities for some underrated candidates to establish themselves as real contenders for first-place votes.
Quarterbacks have hoisted the 25-pound trophy after each of the last five seasons, but 2015 is shaping up to be the year of the skill player.
5. Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State
The quarterback controversy at Ohio State has dominated the headlines, but Ezekiel Elliott is a key reason the Buckeyes keep winning.
Elliott has racked up 988 yards—which is third-best in the country at an average of 141.1 per outing—and 11 touchdowns in seven games. The junior has also caught 20 passes for 131 yards, both of which are on pace to be career-best marks.
Additionally, now that J.T. Barrett is taking his turn as the starting quarterback, Elliott should receive a few more chances for explosive plays. Defenses must commit to containing Barrett, too, and that’ll take one defender away from where Elliott runs. A 2,000-yard season is on the horizon.
4. Corey Coleman, Wide Receiver, Baylor
While Josh Doctson deserves plenty of attention for his outstanding start for TCU, Corey Coleman is putting together a jaw-dropping season at Baylor. Coleman has grabbed a remotely impressive 41 passes, but what the junior has done with those catches is stunning.
Coleman, who has topped the 100-yard mark in each outing so far, has amassed a 21.4-yard average and scored an already-school-record 16 touchdowns. Thirty-nine percent of Coleman’s receptions have resulted in touchdowns.
It’s safe to say he’s rocketing up draft boards around the nation, because right now, Coleman is the most dominant receiver in college football.
3. Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Florida State
Over the last two weeks, no running back has torched defenses more than Florida State’s Dalvin Cook. He tallied 269 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns against the rival Miami, following up that stellar day with 223 total yards and two scores opposite Louisville.
Cook has notched 955 yards on 110 carries, and his rushing numbers would be even more impressive had the sophomore not exited a meeting at Wake Forest due to a hamstring injury. After all, Cook ripped off a 94-yard touchdown on his first carry of the game.
Next up for Cook is a matchup with the nation’s No. 85 rush defense. That might not go too well for Georgia Tech.
2. Trevone Boykin, Quarterback, TCU
If there’s a way to stop Trevone Boykin, then it appears no defense has found the perfect blueprint. TCU’s dual-threat star has yet to be contained for 60 minutes.
Through seven games, Boykin has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 2,539 yards and 25 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. He’s added 440 yards and five scores on the ground.
Considering TCU’s next game is against a West Virginia defense that just allowed 693 yards to Baylor, Boykin’s Heisman-worthy campaign will rage on this weekend.
1. Leonard Fournette, Running Back, LSU
It’s simply unrealistic to not give Leonard Fournette the No. 1 nod on a Heisman Trophy list.
The potential first overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft has obliterated opponents for 1,202 yards and 14 touchdowns, both of which are best in the nation. Fournette hasn’t rushed for fewer than 158 yards and one score in each of his six dominations—otherwise known as “games” to us common folk.
Fournette’s biggest test comes on Nov. 7 when LSU invades Alabama, and the SEC showdown will likely decide whether or not the powerful running back will eventually hoist the Heisman.