2016 Season Preview: Heisman Trophy Picks From the Eleven Warriors Staff

By Eric Seger on August 26, 2016 at 12:30 pm
2016 Heisman Trophy picks from the Eleven Warriors staff.
Deshaun Watson via Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Eleven Warriors' Ohio State Football 2016 Season Preview

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious individual award in college football, given each season to the most outstanding player in the United States whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity, as stated on its website.

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is among the most recent betting favorites to take home the honor following the 2016 season, going off at 12:1 odds. Barrett trails LSU running back Leonard Fournette, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.

To no surprise, those three names dominated the Eleven Warriors Heisman Trophy picks for the 2016 college football season. With Hawai'i and California's matchup in Sydney officially kicking off the season slate Friday at 10 p.m., we felt it necessary to release our picks and the reasons behind them now.

Without further ado, let's get to it.

Ramzy Nasrallah

Pick: Clemson Quarterback Deshaun Watson

Breakdown: Like Ezekiel Elliott last season, it’s his to lose. Clemson’s coaches aren’t mired in a quarterback controversy, nor will they tinker with offensive philosophy for too much of the season. Also important: He’s exceptional.

Johnny Ginter

Pick: Oklahoma Quarterback Baker Mayfield

Breakdown: Mayfield plays in a generally defensive-deficient conference, is surrounded by talent, was already one of the best quarterbacks in the country last year, and has a potential early season Heisman springboard that includes games against Houston, TCU, Texas, and of course, Ohio State. If he can guide the Sooners through that (mostly) unscathed while keeping his form from 2015, he's a lock for New York.

D.J. Byrnes

Pick: LSU Running Back Leonard Fournette

Breakdown: As much as I want to pick J.T. Barrett, my concerns about his durability (hasn’t played a full season since his junior year in high school) override my homerism. The Heisman is a running back and quarterback award, and as such, I’m picking Louisiana State running back Leonard Fournette.

Via Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports.

I already somewhat regret my selection; however, LSU’s schedule sets up favorably with a premiere out-of-conference game against Wisconsin (at Lambeau Field) and Alabama at home. Fournette plays in a run-first offense, and as the workhorse will be able to provide the freakish highlights Heisman voters love to know.

Of course, his campaign could be derailed if the Tigers lose six games, which is always a possibility when your team is coached by a medieval warlock.

Tim Shoemaker

Pick: Watson

Breakdown: Watson is the best quarterback in the country. Clemson has as good a chance as any team to make the College Football Playoff. This seems like the easy preseason pick to make for me. He could have won the award last season, but I’ll pick him to actually win it this year. Watson is a stud.

Andrew Ellis

Pick: Stanford Running Back Christian McCaffrey

Breakdown:  McCaffrey, who should have won the award last year, is my pick to take home the Heisman this year. He gets a ton of touches on offense, plays special teams, and has a history of dominating in Stanford’s biggest games. I know there are some question marks at quarterback and the offensive line, but I still give the nod to one the nation’s most versatile players.

I feel like Stanford’s schedule is also pretty tough, which means ample opportunity to put on a show in front of a national audience. They play USC, UCLA, and Notre Dame all before mid-October, so by that point, we should have a pretty good idea of where things may stand. I don’t think Stanford will make the College Football Playoff, but I also don’t think it will matter this year.

I expect LSU to lose 3-4 games which will make it tricky for Fournette to win the award. Watson will be tough to top, but I’ve got McCaffrey for 2016.

Kyle Jones

Pick: Florida State Running Back Dalvin Cook

Breakdown: While the top quarterbacks like Watson and Mayfield must deliver playoff appearances, and other running backs like Fournette and McCaffrey will be expected to re-write the record books, Cook will be able to live outside the national spotlight until late October when he and the Seminoles host Clemson. Win or lose, putting on a strong showing in that game will allow him to peak at the right time with big opportunities to put up numbers against NC State, Boston College, and Syracuse still to come.


Pick: Watson

Breakdown: Expect Clemson's Deshaun Watson to take home the first Heisman Trophy for a program effectively started by John Heisman himself. Last year's runner-up inherits an offense that has to replace just two offensive linemen and a mediocre wide receiver. Everyone else returns and last year's freshmen will be that better. Clemson should win at least 11 games too. Few Heisman predictions will be as good in August as Deshaun Watson.  

Chris Lauderback

Pick: Watson

Breakdown: I like Deshaun Watson to take home the stiff-arm for a few reasons. For starters, he's the best player on a team I expect to be undefeated when the hardware is handed out. Secondly, his ability to dominate with his arm and feet didn't get enough credit last year when he became the first FBS player to pass for 4,000 yards while running for another grand in a single-season.

This year, his only real challenger will be Christian McCaffrey and while I love watching McCaffrey do his thing, I like Watson to edge him out partly due the additional exposure afforded Watson via playing his games in the eastern time zone.

Kevin Harrish

Pick: Fournette

Breakdown: My Heisman pick is Leonard Fournette, which is actually quite a bold pick because it assumes LSU does not absolutely run him into the ground, and they’re already off to a hot start in that department. If he can defy the odds and stay healthy all season, I think he’s a lock for the Heisman. He’s already proven he can rack up enormous numbers regardless of how many men the defense puts in the box and doesn’t seem to tire even when he’s handed the ball 30 times a game. His only stumbling block may be Alabama – the Tide held him to a paltry 31 yards on 19 attempts last season.

Via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.
Andrew Lind

Pick: McCaffrey

Breakdown: I'm going with Christian McCaffrey, though I'll say UCLA's Josh Rosen and Barrett are finalists.

I thought McCaffrey should have won the Heisman Trophy last year. He broke the Football Bowl Subdivision single-season all-purpose yards record, finishing with 2,019 rushing yards, 645 receiving yards and an average of 28.9 yards per kick return, and I don't see a defense in the PAC-12 that can stop him.

Eric Seger

Pick: Watson

Breakdown: I couldn't decide between Watson and McCaffrey last season when I thought about the best player in the country and neither one of those guys won the award. Instead, the Heisman trust awarded it to Alabama running back Derrick Henry.

Regardless, Watson is the best quarterback in the nation and is playing with a loaded roster down at Clemson. Watching him in the national title game against Alabama was all I needed to see before thinking he will win the Heisman this year. Plus, he threw for 4,100 yards and is lethal with his feet (1,100 rushing yards in 2015).

It just felt like if Watson had five more minutes he would have beaten Alabama for the national championship. A quarterback won the award in eight of the last 10 years, Watson plays in the eastern time zone and Clemson's schedule allows for it to have a good chance at running the table and returning to the College Football Playoff.

View 56 Comments