There has not been a real clear-cut Heisman leader since the 2021 season actually began. Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler was anointed the can’t-miss winner in the preseason. After he struggled and was ultimately benched early, the moniker of Heisman favorite has been passed among a few players.
As we head into the end of the regular season, Ohio State Football quarterback C.J. Stroud has been installed as the betting favorite followed by Alabama’s Bryce Young. Some question if Stroud deserves this much consideration.
During OSU’s blowout of Michigan State, ABC play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler wondered if Stroud should win the Heisman because he is surrounded by loads of talent. Others have started to echo this opinion. The claim is Alabama’s best receiver, Jameson Williams, transferred from Ohio State because he had lost his starting job and was not going to get much playing time.
This means Young is playing with a supporting cast that is not nearly what Stroud has around him. This is a very poor argument against the Ohio State football player winning the award. A VERY, VERY poor argument, indeed.
Let’s dismantle their argument in two parts. The first is the level of talent at Alabama. The Crimson Tide was ranked number one in every poll to start the season. Despite the loss to Texas A&M, they were still ranked second going into their most recent game. The College Football Playoff committee has had them second in each of their rankings so far.
It is very obvious they are considered an extremely talented team. Because of these things, you can’t turn around and claim their Heisman candidate quarterback does not have talent around him. You can’t have it both ways. This is a very poor argument, because Bryce Young has plenty of weapons to choose from.
The second part of our dismantling deals with last season. Tide wide receiver DaVonta Smith won the 2020 Heisman Trophy. He did so playing on an offense that had five players taken in the first round of the latest NFL Draft. You want to talk about being surrounded by talent?
Their quarterback, running back, two receivers, and left tackle were taken in the opening round. Smith wasn’t even the first Alabama receiver chosen. Jaylen Waddle went sixth, Smith tenth. You’d better believe Waddle took some of the defense’s attention away from his receiving partner.
The same can be said for running back Najee Harris. You really think defenses were only worried about Smith when there was a beast like Harris in the backfield? Quarterback Mac Jones had all day to throw behind an outstanding offensive line that featured Alex Leatherwood, the Outland Trophy winner. Those in the media had no trouble pushing Smith for the Heisman with all of that talent around him.
The “Stroud shouldn’t win the Heisman because he has a lot of talent around him” argument does not hold up. It needs to go away. We know it won’t and we know why it won’t. Stroud has had his struggles at times, but with no clear-cut leader most of the season, he is deserving of the consideration he is getting.