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Heisman Watch 2022: Evaluating CJ Stroud, Bryce Young and top 2022 Heisman candidates

Matt Johnson
Heisman Watch 2022
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young won the 2021 Heisman Trophy. Below, we examine the 2022 Heisman Watch and candidates that will have a shot at taking the trophy away from Stroud next season.

It should come as no surprise that Young is the 2022 Heisman favorite. He’ll be entering his second season as the starting quarterback, a moment when many of the best players in college football take a step forward. But Young will be losing some of this top wide receivers and the competition for the award will be even deeper.

With that in mind, let’s examine the early 2022 Heisman Trophy contenders.

2022 Heisman odds

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama+250
CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State+400
Caleb Williams, QB, USC+800
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas+1600
Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas+2000
TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State+2000
DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson+2000
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida+2000
JT Daniels, QB, transfer portal+2500
Kedon Slovis, QB, Pittsburgh+2500
Jaxson Dart, QB, Ole Miss+2500
Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami+2500
Heisman Trophy 2022 odds via BetMGM

Heisman Watch 2022: Top candidates for the Heisman Trophy next season

Bryce Young, quarterback, Alabama Crimson Tide

NCAA Football: Heisman Trophy Presentation
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, enters as the favorite to win the most coveted honor in college football. He’ll enter the 2022 season atop the Heisman Watch with many expecting great things this fall. One thing to remember, Alabama lost Jameson Williams and John Metchie III to the NFL. The Crimson Tide are hoping sophomore wideout Jermaine Burton steps into the role as the No. 1 receiver, but this receiving corps isn’t quite as good as it used to be. It’s why Young isn’t our current pick to win.

C.J. Stroud, quarterback, Ohio State Buckeyes

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There couldn’t be a Heisman Watch list without C.J. Stroud. Ohio State’s star quarterback was the favorite at on point, likely atop many Heisman Trophy ballots after he racked up 432 yards and six touchdowns in barely three quarters against Michigan State. Really, the Buckeyes’ defense not showing up in “The Game” is what cost him this time around.

While Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave are off to the NFL, Stroud will make plenty of highlights with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. We think this receiving corps can be just as good in 2022 and with a strong offensive line, Stroud is our personal favorite among the Heisman Watch candidates.

Tyler Van Dyke, quarterback, Miami Hurricanes

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Miami
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

We might be on the verge of the Miami Hurricanes becoming a respected ACC power again. Miami turned to freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke late in the season and he delivered. The 2020 four-star recruit finished his first season with 2,931 passing yards, a 25-6 TD-INT ratio and the eighth-best QBR (80.6) in the FBS. With Mario Cristobal set to help Miami take a huge step forward, all Van Dyke needs is a great offensive coordinator like Joe Brady to put up eye-popping numbers over a full season. That’s why he’s on our Heisman Watch this early.

Braelon Allen, running back, Wisconsin Badgers

Syndication: The Post-Crescent
Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) scores a 71-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against Nebraska during their football game Saturday, November 20, 2021, at Camp Randall in Madison, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinApc Wiscvsnebraskafb 1120210230djpa

Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen is coming off an absurd first year at the collegiate level as a 17-year-old. He finished with 1,109 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, posting the highest yards per carry (7.1) by any FBS running back with 100-plus touches. Headed for an even bigger role in 2022, he could be the next Wisconsin back to enjoy a 2,000-yard season (Jonathan Taylor, 2018 and ’19).

While a running back winning the Heisman Trophy feels unlikely at this point, voters might be more inclined if an 18-year-old is the best rusher in the sport. He’s not the wisest bet right now, but there’s a chance Allen can be a Heisman finalist in 2022.

TreVeyon Henderson, running back, Ohio State Buckeyes

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) waits to take the field before their NCAA College football game against Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on November 20, 2021.Osu21msu Kwr 32

The No.1 running back in the 2021 recruiting class became one of the leading rushers in college football as a true freshman. Ohio State’s 5-foot-10 ball carrier accounted for 1,172 yards on the ground, 285 as a receiver and racked up 19 total touchdowns. Much of the heavy lifting came from a 277-yard showing vs. Tulsa, but Henderson’s 7.0 ypc and an even bigger role in Ohio State’s offense certainly makes him a 2022 Heisman Trophy contender.

Will Anderson, edge rusher, Alabama Crimson Tide

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Alabama
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The simple fact is, Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson deserved more votes in 2021 than Aidan Hutchinson. Anderson led the country in sacks (15.5), ranked second in quarterback pressures (73) and tacked on 91 total tackles and 29 tackles for loss. Returning for his junior season, Anderson can extend his streak of seven consecutive games with a sack (12.5 during that span) and he belongs in our preliminary Heisman Watch for the 2022 season.

Caleb Williams, quarterback, USC Trojans

NCAA Football: Southern California Spring Game
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No matter where he landed, Caleb Williams would be on the 2022 Heisman Trophy watched. He made a case for the award in a short stint as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback in his freshman season. Now headed to Southern California, Williams stays in an offense he knows and will be surrounded with plenty of weapons.

The Trojans likely aren’t a championship contender immediately, but 35-plus touchdowns and double-digit wins will earn Williams plenty of Heisman votes. Given the immense talent on USC’s offense, Williams might be an even wiser bet right now in the Heisman odds than Young.

Quinn Ewers, quarterback, Texas Longhorns

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman
Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Quinn Ewers should be the Texas Longhorns starting quarterback in 2022, but he’ll need to beat out Hudson Card first. Both young passers are splitting reps in spring practices as Steve Sarkisian waits for someone to emerge as the clear starter. Ultimately, Ewers should win the battle.

We have no doubt a great quarterback can thrive in Sarkisian’s offense, history provides plenty of examples. Ewers would have even more support with opponents fearing what Bijan Robinson can do as the featured back in the Longhorns’ offense. Admittedly, we think Ewers odds to win the Heisman are a little high. Texas likely won’t be back to title contention in 2022 and that’s what Ewers needs to contend. At least for now, though, he has a place in Heisman Watch 2022.

2022 Heisman Watch candidates: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas Longhorns; Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida; Jaxson Dart, QB, Ole Miss; Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

Here are the Heisman Trophy results and a breakdown of why Bryce Young finished atop the 2021 Heisman voting.

2021 Heisman Trophy voting results

Player:1st Place:2nd Place:3rd Place:TOTAL:
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama684107452,311
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan78273174954
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh28175197631
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State12118127399
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama317974325
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State185385245
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss103256150
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati5153681
Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia9151875
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State01717

With 83% of the total possible points, Bryce Young finishes with the seventh-highest total in Heisman Trophy voting history.

Heisman Watch: Why Bryce Young won the Heisman

Bryce Young stats and Heisman case

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Alabama
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Passing YardsPass YPG:YPA:Pass TDs / TD%INT / INT%QB ratingCompletion Rate
4,322332.59.343 / 9.3%4 / 0.86%175.468%

Bryce Young delivers Heisman moment

Bryce Young is the Heisman Trophy winner. Winning the SEC Championship Game would be enough on its own to win the most coveted individual trophy in sports, but this is about so much more. The Georgia Bulldogs entered with easily the best defense in college football and they never had an answer for Young.

Georgia Bulldogs defense stats (Week 1 – Week 13)

  • Opponents’ third-down conversion rate: 33.7%
  • Opponents’ red-zone attempts per game: 1.8, second-fewest in FBS
  • Opponents’ average points per first half: 2.6, lowest in FBS
  • Georgia’s sack rate: 10.27%, sixth-highest in FBS
  • Opponents’ first downs per game: 13.6, second-fewest in FBS
  • Opposing quarterbacks vs. Georgia: 57.83% completion rate (27th), 170 pass yards/game (2nd), 100.7 passer rating (2nd), 5-12 TD-INT ratio

After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Young came alive in the next 15 minutes. He engineered three unanswered scoring drives, making pinpoint throws downfield and displaying perfect ball placement wherever he wanted to go. When the Bulldogs tied the game with two minutes left, Young counterpunched with his own drive that was capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run before halftime.

  • Bryce Young first half stats vs. Georgia: 286 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, 3 total touchdowns.

Young didn’t have John Metchie to begin the second half, but he still kept things rolling. On Alabama’s opening drive in the third quarter, he delivered a strike to Jameson Williams for a huge touchdown.

Young didn’t just perform well in the SEC Championship Game, he delivered his best game of the season against No. 1 Georgia. A 461-yard, four-touchdown game is sending Alabama to the playoffs. Of course, it also guarantees we’ll see Bryce Young’s name on the Heisman Trophy.

Bryce Young’s Heisman resume

Replacing 2020 Heisman finalist Mac Jones, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is playing at an absurd level in his first full season as the starter. Keep in mind, this comes a year after the Crimson Tide saw Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle enter the NFL as first-round picks.

While Stroud got off to a relatively slow start, Young came firing out of the gates. In his first three games, including wins against Miami (FL) and Florida, the sophomore completed 68% of his attempts with 811 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

After that, the 6-foot quarterback hit a small rough patch over his next three contests. He threw an interception in three consecutive games and his worst performance of the year came against Texas A&M. In Nick Saban’s first loss to a former assistant, Young completed just 58.% of his 48 attempts and threw a costly interception at the 3-yard line that decided a 41-38 loss.

But Young rebounded from that game, carving up Mississippi State, Tennessee and LSU for 8 touchdowns and 1,021 passing yards with a 3-0 record. Fittingly, he is also posting some eye-popping statistics over the last two games and that includes a shootout victory over a ranked Arkansas opponent.

  • Bryce Young stats (Week 11-12): 52-of-63 passes completed (82.5%), 829 passing yards, 15.9% TD rate, 10-0 TD-INT

While Young might fall behind Stroud in terms of impact wins, which will swing some voters, he is operating with a lesser supporting cast. While both Jameson Williams (1,218 yards, 13 TDs) and John Metchie III (895 yards, 7 TDs) are future NFL players, Alabama doesn’t have that third star in its receiving corps.

We also saw Young rise to the occasion in a Week 12 matchup that saw Alabama’s defense surrender 35 points to the Razorbacks and this same Crimson Tide roster that surrendered 41 points in the loss to Texas A&M. Stepping up in those moments is a boost for Young’s Heisman resume.

Bryce Young vs. Auburn

A Heisman moment isn’t always about an entire game. While a six-touchdown performance against a top opponent deserves all the attention it receives, voters also notice things like this. Alabama’s offense could do nothing for 58 minutes on Saturday, failing to find the end zone in the Iron Bowl.

Then, Bryce Young got the football at the Alabama 3-yard line down a touchdown with 92 seconds left. After consecutive incompletions, things looked bleak for the Crimson Tide. Young then flipped a switch, stepping into the biggest moment of his young college football career and moved it to AUburn’s 28-yard line within 60 seconds. On the next play, he made one of the best scores we’ll see all year to tie it in the closing seconds.

An unbelievable throw and an unforgettable drive against an Auburn defense that played almost perfect for 59 minutes. With the Iron Bowl sent to overtime for the first time in history, Young got the ball first and delivered an immediate touchdown strike, which Auburn matched. Both teams exchanged field goals in the second OT.

  • Bryce Young stats vs. Auburn: 25-of-51, 317 pass yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, two two-point conversions

Young took the field in the third overtime and struck immediately, connecting for a two-point conversion. Auburn tied it at 22, keeping this college football classic going. Following a stop by the Crimson Tide, Young hit John Metchie once more for the comeback victory. That earned him the No. 1 spot in the Heisman Watch.