Others Considered (Alphabetical): Boise State, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, NC State, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina, Syracuse
#10 – Mississippi State
Dan Mullen left Joe Moorhead a little present for his first year at Mississippi State in Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald racked up 2,766 combined yards last year despite going down with an injury late in the season, and Moorhead’s coaching will help him improved on a nasty 15-11 touchdown to interception ratio.
#9 – Washington
Jake Browning’s stats took a big hit last year after he lost top wideout target John Ross, now he loses Pettis as well, but hopefully for Huskie fans he doesn’t have another steep drop off. His 3,430 yard, 43 touchdown mark in the passing game in 2016 was Heisman worthy, so we’ll see if he can get back to those levels.
#8 – Arkansas State
Justice Hansen makes an appearance here as the best quarterback you may never have heard of. Hansen leads the country among returning players in yards/game for the 2017 season. He totaled over 4,400 combined rushing and passing yards for the year, with 44 total touchdowns.
#7 – Auburn
Jarrett Stidham disappointed me a lot in the beginning of the 2017 season, but he certainly picked it up towards the end and finished with a solid 3,158 yards, and while his 18-6 TD-Interception ratio isn’t out of this world, it is still very good and Stidham only has room to improve.
#6 – Arizona
Despite missing like half the season, Khalil Tate still racked up 1,411 yards on the ground last year, besting all but three other FBS QB’s, all of whom played more games. His 14-9 touchdown to interception ratio is a bit worrying, but that composure will come with his added experience.
#5 – Alabama
Well, the Tide have two options at least. Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts both played at points the year, and Hurts’ 26-2 mark as a starter cannot be discredited no matter what team was around him for those 28 games. Tagovalia came in and shined in the National Championship game, but it will be interesting to see if Saban sticks with the proven commodity.
#4 – Missouri
Drew Lock may not be everybody’s favorite NFL Draft prospect, but after he averaged over 300 yards per game last season, it is impossible to leave him off of this list. For the year he racked up just shy of 4,000 yards and had a TD-Int ratio of 44-13. His accuracy will need to improve a little bit (58% last year), but if it does the talk of him being the first QB off the board may not be so crazy.
#3 – Penn State
Trace McSorley is the boring pick, but he is the obvious one. With 28 touchdowns last year (plus 11 on the ground), McSorley was already producing on the national stage, it’s just now, he’ll have an even bigger spotlight with the focus squarely on him now that Saquon Barkley has moved on to the NFL. McSorely cracking 3,000 yards again is probably the bare minimum.
#2 – West Virginia
Florida transfer Will Grier lit up the college football world in 2017 after having to sit out 2016 because of the NCAA’s passing policy. His 317 yards per game average ranked 2nd in the country only to Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen, and he still managed to toss 34 touchdowns despite missing time down the stretch. Miami transfer Jack Allison provides depth should he go down again.
#1 – UCF (fight me)
Scott Frost may be gone from UCF, but McKenzie Milton sure isn’t. Milton is the only guy that made my Heisman ballot returning outside of Bryce Love. Milton racked up over 4,600 yards combined rushing and passing. He was second only to Baker Mayfield in passer rating for the 2017 season, and I would be surprised if he didn’t flat out win it this year.