It’s no surprise to see online sportsbook Bovada’s opening odds on the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner betting board stacked with 26 ballhandlers across the board. Of those 26 hopefuls, 16 of them play quarterback – including each of the top seven candidates – while six tote the rock as running backs, and four haul it in as wide receivers.
With the 2019 college football season just around the corner, pigskin pundits are already hard at work evaluating this year’s crop of Heisman Trophy candidates.
Awarded to the most outstanding player in all of college football since 1935, the Heisman Trophy has come to represent the sports pinnacle for offensive players. To wit, since the 2000 season, all 19 award winners have played offense, with 16 quarterbacks and three running backs taking top honors. In fact, only one player who suited up primarily on defense has ever hoisted the Heisman Trophy – electric cornerback and kick returner Charles Woodson (Michigan – 1997).
To get a sense of perspective on how the initial Heisman pecking order can be upended following a full season of play, consider last year’s winner Kyler Murray.
The former Oklahoma quarterback opened the 2018 season as a (+2200) longshot, trailing eleven other players on the board. Fast forward 12 wins for his Sooners later, however, and Murray’s stellar season – 260/377 passing for 4,361 yards and 42 TD to just seven interceptions – made him the runaway winner over Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in terms of first-place Heisman Trophy votes.
Heading into the 2019 campaign, Murray is the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, having been selected with the first overall draft pick in the NFL Draft.
As for Tagovailoa – who outdueled Murray and Oklahoma to lead his Crimson Tide to a College Football Playoff (CFP) semifinal win in the Orange Bowl – the junior returns to Alabama as a (+250) favorite to take the Heisman Trophy mantle this time around. His status as the favorite certainly makes sense, given Tagovailoa finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up last year with 299 first-place votes to 517 for Murray.
Tagovailoa was also the runner-up in the CFP National Championship game, losing to Clemson after then true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence lit up the usually stout Alabama defense to the tune of 44-16.
An undefeated 15-0 season and a national title has burnished the sophomore signal-caller’s reputation, as Lawrence is right on Tagovailoa’s heels at (+275) to add the Heisman Trophy to his growing resume.
Completing the trifecta of National Championship aspirants and their three degrees of separation, former Alabama starter turned Tagovailoa backup Jalen Hurts has replaced Murray as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback. The Sooners have won the Big 12 Conference championship four years running, but they’ve fallen short in the CFP semifinals in three of those four postseasons as Alabama and Clemson have dominated the National Championship conversation.
Hurts is in his final year of eligibility, and he’ll be highly motivated taking over a 12-2 Oklahoma team having lost his job in Alabama. Therefore, the senior is listed at (+700) to make a 2019 Heisman Trophy run.
Based on Murray’s unexpected ascendance from fringe status to consensus winner, the 2019 Heisman Trophy race remains wide open until meaningful games are actually in the books.
With that in mind, longshot-minded bettors might want to take a look at Clemson running back Travis Etienne, who is priced at (+2000) in the same range as Murray was last year. As a sophomore, Etienne carried the ball 204 times for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, leading all Football Bowl Subdivision rushers in the latter category.
With a more seasoned Lawrence running the Tigers’ high-octane aerial attack, and likely opening up big holes up front for Etienne, he could easily enter the Heisman Trophy discussion should Clemson roll through another dominant season.
To see how Bovada has sized up the opening odds for all 26 of the Heisman Trophy candidates, check out the table below:
|Player (Position – School)||Odds to Win the 2019 Heisman Trophy (as of 7/19/19)|
|Tua Tagovailoa (QB – Alabama)||+250|
|Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson)||+275|
|Jalen Hurts (QB – Oklahoma)||+700|
|Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State)||+900|
|Adrian Martinez (QB – Nebraska)||+1100|
|Jake Fromm (QB – Georgia)||+1400|
|Sam Ehlinger (QB – Texas)||+1500|
|D’Andre Swift (RB – Georgia)||+1700|
|Jonathan Taylor (RB – Wisconsin)||+2000|
|Justin Herbert (QB – Oregon)||+2000|
|Travis Etienne (RB – Clemson)||+2000|
|Shea Patterson (QB – Michigan)||+2600|
|Ian Book (QB – Notre Dame)||+3500|
|Najee Harris (RB – Alabama)||+3500|
|Jerry Jeudy (WR – Alabama)||+4000|
|Austin Kendall (QB – West Virginia)||+5000|
|Rondale Moore (WR – Purdue)||+5000|
|A.J. Dillon (RB – Boston College)||+5500|
|Tee Higgins (WR – Clemson)||+6000|
|D’Eriq King (QB – Houston)||+6500|
|Tate Martell (QB – Miami)||+7000|
|Kelly Bryant (QB – Missouri)||+7500|
|Khalil Tate (QB – Arizona)||+7500|
|Eno Benjamin (RB – Arizona State)||+8000|
|K.J. Costello (QB – Stanford)||+8000|
|Tylan Wallace (WR – Oklahoma State)||+10000|