With August finally upon us, it’s the month college football finally returns. Saturday’s are for the boys, but they’re also for College Football. They’re for tailgating, upsets, and fans coming together to bring the best out of their alma mater. They’re for players making the most of their opportunity and becoming a campus legend. With the new season ready to roll, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 players you should keep an eye on all season long, as each of them are 2018-2019 preseason Heisman favorites and are likely candidates to be sitting as a Heisman finalist come seasons end. Our list is in no particular order; just the players we believe have the best chance to take home the coveted award. Remember, team success is crucial in the voter’s eyes. If you’re on a bad team, you have zero chance at winning the award, even if your individual statistics are off the charts. With that being considered, our list is composed of players we believe will standout on teams that will also finish the season with a good enough record to give their stars a chance at the trophy.
Kyler Murray – QB – Oklahoma
Talk about a dual-sport super stud. The once 5-star recruit and high school Gatorade National Player of the Year for football has just recently been drafted by the Oakland A’s with the 9th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and signed a 5million dollar contract. The A’s have granted him one more season to play college football. We last saw Murray playing for the Texas A&M Aggies, where he became the only player other than Cam Newton to rush and pass for 100 yards while scoring a touchdown both on the ground and through the air in their first career start in NCAA history. Baker Mayfield recently spoke on Murray, saying he expects the star QB to break all of his single-season OU records. High praise from the former Heisman winner and first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Murray will immediately be one of the most dynamic and fastest Quarterbacks in the country. With most of the OU’s skill-players returning, Murray will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. Look for Head Coach Lincoln Riley to bring the best out of Murray in his one year as the leader of the program. Heisman finalist or not, we expect a big season for the 20yr old.
Bryce Love – RB – Stanford
The runner-up in last year’s race declined to go to the NFL and instead chose to return to campus and suit up for another season as the Cardinals superstar. Love is the most explosive player in the country, by miles and miles. Last season Love finished 5th nationally with 19 rushing touchdowns, and 2nd nationally with over 2,100 rushing yards. Eleven of his 19 rushing touchdowns came from the opponent’s side of the field, which speaks volumes to his open field speed. If Love gets out in space, he’s gone. This season is all about breaking records for the standout back as he has his eyes set on Toby Gerhart’s single-season rushing TD record of 28. Last year, Love was barely utilized in the passing game. If he can stay healthy and become more a receiving threat, he should wind up near the top of the Heisman finalist list in his senior campaign.
Will Grier – QB – West Virginia
The Grier family hype is real. Nash and Hayes are social media stars, their younger sister is a star in the making, and their older brother is receiving about of the preseason hype that one individual player can garner. Will Grier is coming into his senior campaign carrying high expectations on his shoulders. Grier is the preseason Big 12 player of the year and for good reason. Last year as a junior he piled up more than 3,500 yards and 34 touchdowns in just ten games. Grier was once the top high school quarterback recruit in the country and started his collegiate career at Florida. As a starting freshman, he was 5-0 before being suspended for the use of PEDs. Grier elected to transfer out of Florida amid the suspension. Nothing would fulfill the road to self-redemption any better than ending his collegiate career with a Heisman trophy. Watch for Grier and WVU’s potent offense to put up gaudy numbers this season.
Tua Tagovailoa – QB – Alabama
Anyone that watched the second half of this past National Championship game knows the kind of game this kid brings to the field. A gutsy gunslinger who’s not afraid of the moment is the easiest way to sum up this kids game. To play your first meaningful collegiate snaps on the biggest stage and have a performance like Tua did speaks volumes. The kid is a special talent, on the most talented team in the country. Not to mention the best coach in the nation coaches him. The only thing that could derail his Heisman chances is if Jalen Hurts beats him out in the offseason QB battle for the starting spot. All indications point to Tua being under center for the start of the season, and that’s a scary sight to all opposing defenses. Watch for this sophomore to put up insane numbers in his first full season. This kid out of Hawaii is just getting started.
Jonathan Taylor – RB – Wisconsin
Is it just me or does Wisconsin always seem to have a dominant running back? Some of the notable names from recent years, Montee ball (a Heisman finalist) and a player who set the record for most rushing touchdowns in one season with 33. Melvin Gordon had the second most rushing yards in a single collegiate season with 2,587 his senior year, second to only Barry Sanders. Then, Corey Clement dominated for a year before going on to lead the Eagles to a Superbowl as a rookie this past season. All of these guys have paved the way for the next Wisconsin superstar, Jonathan Taylor. Taylor rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns as a true freshman this past season. With Wisconsin’s huge offensive line and smashmouth running style, Taylor should be due for a humongous sophomore campaign. As long as his Badgers can finish near the top of the Big-10 standings, Taylor should find himself at the Heisman ceremony come December.
Khalil Tate – QB – Arizona
Anytime you land on the cover of Sport’s Illustrated with a quote saying “Hand him the Heisman,” you have to be listed as a preseason favorite. Tate is as electrifying a playmaker as you’ll find in the country. Tate is nation’s most explosive dual-threat QB; he piled up over 1,500 passing yards and 1,400 rushing yards in his first year as the starter this past season. With rumors that Tate has significantly improved his passing in the offseason, he should only become more dynamic in his Junior campaign. If Arizona can get by Oregon and USC at home, they should have a good shot at finishing the season near the top of the Pac-12 standings. Where they finish in the standings will have huge implications on Tate’s finalist hopes come the end of the season. Arizona isn’t overwhelmingly talented across the board, but Tate is talented enough himself to singlehandedly win the Wildcats a few games.
Jarrett Stidham – QB – Auburn
Fresh off a loss to self-proclaimed National Champs, the University of Central Florida Knights, Stidham should come into the 2018-2019 season with a huge chip on his shoulder. The Junior standout is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country, and with Kerryon Johnson gone, more of the offensive load should be placed on Stidham’s shoulders. Stidham has thrown just eight interceptions in his collegiate career. The Tigers are stacked on defense as usual. If Stidham can emerge as the star everyone expects in his second season as the starter, Auburn should finish near the top of the SEC standings. The top of the SEC standings means the college football playoffs. If Stidham can guide Auburn there, he should also guide himself to New York. The last game of the season, at Alabama, could be the deciding factor. If Stidham and the Tigers can go into Tuscaloosa and knock off the Saban Dynasty, they should win the SEC West, and Stidham should pack his winter coat for NY.
Trace McSorley – QB – Penn State
With all-world running back Saquon Barkley now in the NFL, the Nittany Lions offense lies solely in McSorley’s hands. The senior dual-threat QB has helped guided Penn State to back-to-back New Year’s six bowls. Expectations are higher than ever this season, with fans wanting more. McSorley’s cool, calm demeanor seems to have Penn State positioned for a huge season. As a 3-star high school recruit, McSorley has thrived throughout his breakout college career. He’s compiled over 4,000 yards and 70 touchdowns throughout his two seasons as a starter. With Barkley in the NFL, a more significant offensive load will be placed on the QBs shoulders. With an ultra-talented roster around him, there’s no reason the Nittany Lions can’t make the playoffs. If they do, McSorley will most certainly be the biggest reason. Expect him to produce huge numbers in his final college run. Sit back, and enjoy.
Sam Ehlinger – QB – Texas
Ehlinger is primed to be the guy who restores faith in the Texas football community. The Longhorns are one of the most prestigious football programs in the country. However, ever since Colt McCoy has graduated, the program has been in disarray. They’ve parted ways with their legendary coach Mack Brown, and have struggled to find a new regime that they can build around. With Tom Herman in town, things have been trending in the right direction. His recruitment of gunslinger Ehlinger may very well be the turning point. Ehlinger showed his gutsiness and arm ability throughout his freshman campaign as he battled for snaps with Shane Buechele. Solely on ability and confidence alone, Ehlinger will produce numbers. If he can improve in his ability to protect the football with the game on the line, he should give Texas a real shot at a stellar season. A win in the red river rivalry versus Oklahoma and against WVU and their Heisman candidate, and Texas should be primed for a Big-12 Championship run.
Shea Patterson – QB – Michigan
The former nation’s top recruit in 2016, is looking forward to a stellar campaign in his new home. Patterson started his collegiate career in Ole Miss but transferred after everything that happened with Head Coach, Hugh Freeze. Shea has a cannon and has proven his exquisite accuracy all offseason for the maize and blue. The transfer to Michigan gives Shea a fresh start. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has a history of developing and bringing the most out of quarterbacks. His zero tolerance style has led to success in the NFL and two different college programs. Patterson is taking over the reins of an immensely talented roster, and if he can live up to the hype, the Wolverines should finish at the top of the Big-10 standings. If so, Patterson will be the biggest reason for their success. His elite confidence, along with the talent around him should bode well for a tremendous individual season.