College football is right around the corner.
Spring football camps are coming to a close all over the country, providing fans with just a glimpse of what's to come. With so much talent returning from 2015, the 2016 college football season is shaping up to be an exciting one featuring several players that will make strong cases for the Heisman Trophy, an award given to the nation's best player.
Last year, despite LSU's Leonard Fournette ruling the first half of the season and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey running wild all year long, it was Alabama running back Derrick Henry who took home the hardware, etching his name in college football history. He rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on the way to 'Bama's 16th national title. It marked the second time a member of the Crimson Tide has won the Heisman.
But who will take it home in 2016?
There are several players that will have a realistic shot at bringing it home this season, and some names may be more familiar than others - for now.
Here are the only 10 players that can win college football's Heisman Trophy in 2016.
10. QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
College football fans - as a whole - may not be very familiar with Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson's talent on the football field, but that will all change in 2016. He's returning for his sophomore season and looking to improve upon an impressive freshman campaign.
">April 16, 2016
As a freshman in 2015, Jackson threw for 1,840 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and added 11 more touchdowns on the ground. His instinct and pocket pocket presence are evident when you watch his game film, and he's sneaky fast when he tucks the ball away to run. With a strong, accurate arm and plenty of awareness in the pocket, Jackson will show out during his sophomore season. ACC opponents beware - Jackson threw for 519 yards and eight touchdowns during Louisville's spring game over the weekend. No. 9 ??? >>>9. S/CB/LB Jabrill Peppers, MichiganAs you can see from his description, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers does it on the field for the Wolverines. As he returns for his junior season, Peppers already has experience playing cornerback and safety, and even spent time at linebacker during spring camp. He also contributed on offense and in the return game. This kind of versatility is only going to help the Wolverines in 2016.
— Cari Williamson (@cdubb1313)
— Cari Williamson (@cdubb1313) March 26, 2016
">March 26, 2016
As a sophomore, Peppers recorded 45 tackles and defended 10 passes. He also tallied two touchdowns on the other side of the ball. Michigan will look to take advantage of that versatility again in 2016, playing him on both sides of the ball. However, on defense, he'll be the field general for first-year defensive coordinator Don Brown. No. 8 ??? >>>8. QB Chad Kelly, Ole MissOle Miss quarterback Chad Kelly may have more of a reputation off the football field when it comes to the casual college football fan, having transferred from Clemson, but the Rebels' signal caller is one heck of a football player. He'll return for his junior season in hopes to lead Ole Miss through the SEC West and onto the College Football Playoff.
">March 22, 2016
They were close in 2015, handing Alabama its only loss of the season, 43-37, in week 3, and Kelly had a lot to do with that. Kelly threw for over 4,000 yards last season (4,042) on his way to 31 touchdowns. He also rushed for 10 more touchdowns. He's got game. He's got confidence. Now he's just fighting for the recognition, and 2016 could be his year. He'll have a chance to start the season off with a bang on a neutral field against Florida State in week 1.
7. QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Despite losing 16 starters from last season to graduation or the NFL Draft, Ohio State is in prime position to make another run out of the Big Ten. Outside of having one of the best coaches in college football in Urban Meyer, one of the main reasons for this is the return of junior quarterback J.T. Barrett. If it weren't for Barrett, the Buckeyes could be in some serious trouble this time around. Instead, the rest of the Big Ten once again dreads facing OSU.
">April 16, 2016
Barrett is the ultimate leader on and off the field. With plenty of personality to go around in Ohio State's locker room, Barrett is calm, cool and collected, keeping his teammates in check when the lights come on. This is exactly what the Buckeyes need with so many first-year starters taking the field in 2016. If OSU finds a way back to the College Football Playoff in 2016, Barrett will be the reason. 11 touchdowns in the air and 11 touchdowns on the ground is what he tallied during an up and down year in 2015.No. 6 ??? >>>6. QB Baker Mayfield, OklahomaOklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield took college football by storm during his first season under center for the Sooners. Leading OU all the way to the College Football Playoff, Mayfield threw for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for seven touchdowns on the year. Despite falling just short of Clemson semifinals, the season was not a disappointment - thanks to Mayfield.
— Inside The Fanatic (@insidethefan)
— Inside The Fanatic (@insidethefan) March 26, 2016
">March 26, 2016
With his return and the return of running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, the Sooners are once again in position to make a run at the College Football Playoff. Mayfield is electric to watch, and his teammates feed off that energy on the football field. With a tricky season opener against a tough Houston team inside NRG Stadium, home of the Texans, Mayfield will have an opportunity to capture the attention of college football fans all over the country. Should be an exciting year at OU.No. 5 ??? >>>5. RB Nick Chubb, GeorgiaAfter more than half of last season with an injury, college football fans may have forgotten about Georgia's Nick Chubb. And with all of the talented running backs coming back this year, it's easy to see why. But they'll quickly be reminded that Chubb is one of the best in the game. By the time he went down early on in the week 6 match-up against Tennessee, Chubb had already accumulated 745 yards and seven touchdowns. Georgia fans are excited to see him back on the field.
">April 16, 2016
Chubb returns in 2016 with a chip on his shoulder. And while first-year head coach Kirby Smart will look to keep Chubb healthy. he'll be feeding him the ball as much as possible because that's exactly what Chubb wants. With 2016 shaping up to be the year of the running back, UGA's star will fight for his position in the discussion.
4. RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
LSU running back Leonard Fournette was as dominant a force as there was in college football last season, literally tossing defenders off his back on the way to the end zone. At times, it seemed only something you'd see in a movie or a video game. But it was real. He is real. And he's back with a vengeance in 2016. After a spectacular start to the season in which the Tigers won their first seven games, they fell of their mark losing three straight games, destroying any chance at a playoff birth.
— Cameron Harlow (@harlow925)
— Cameron Harlow (@harlow925) October 18, 2015
">October 18, 2015
The fearless Fournette returns for his junior season after rushing for 1,953 and 22 touchdowns last season, and he'll be looking to improve on that mark. A monster with the ball under his arm, nobody runs harder than the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder. He strikes fear in defenders' eyes. If anybody has a chance at winning the Heisman this year it's him.
3. RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is another name you can't forget when talking about the 2016 college football season as a whole. Despite not receiving much consideration as a Heisman candidate last season, Cook was widely considered as one of the best running backs in the county, and for good reason. Battling a hamstring that not only kept him sidelined for basically two games, with several other instances where he was taken out, Cook rushed for 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns on just 229 carries. Nobody had a higher per-rush average than he did.
">April 13, 2016
Cook returns for his junior season with one thing in mind - a trip to the College Football Playoff. And if the Seminoles get their on the back of Cook, he'll receive plenty of Heisman consideration this time around. Cook hits the hole as hard as any running back in recent memory, and once he hits his burners he's gone. There's no catching him. Add that speed to his deceptive strength and you have one of the most complete backs in the game.
2. RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Stanford's Christian McCaffrey did it all for the Cardinal last season and looks to do much of the same this time around. One of the best all-purpose players in recent memory, McCaffrey has the tools to carry Stanford through the Pac-12 and into the College Football Playoff in 2016. As a sophomore last season, the all-purpose back accumulated 2,019 rushing yards and 645 receiving yards on the way to a combined 13 touchdowns.
McCaffrey returns for his junior year as one of the front-runners for the Heisman Trophy. If McCaffrey wins he will be only the second player in Stanford history to do so. Jim Plunkett brought the award home in 1970. All eyes will be on Stanford star this time around. Should be an exciting year for Cardinal fans.
1. QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Clemson's Deshaun Watson returns to the field in 2016 as the best quarterback in all of college football. There's not much of a debate. After leading the Tigers through an undefeated regular season, an ACC title and a semifinal win against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff, all Watson did was steal the show during the title game against Alabama. Unfortunately for him, the Tigers fell short of the Tide. But 2016 could be a completely different story, and when it comes to the Heisman Trophy he's the one to beat.
As a sophomore in 2015, Watson threw for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns and rushed for 12 more. He was fantastic. A field general in his own right, the Tigers' signal caller seems calm, cool and collected at all times and that was showcased during the national title game. All Heisman Trophy conversations run through Tiger Town ahead of the 2016 college football season.