With the start of the college football season a mere nine days away, our thoughts turn to individual performances. You know.....who is going to win the Heisman Trophy? With three of the top four finalists returning from 2015, there seems to be no clear cut favorite; no player you can hang a banner on and say, "This is the guy who's going to win the Heisman. Today, I'll list my choices for the top five contenders, and who knows? One of them may actually win it.
5. Dalvin Cook-Florida State: Cook rushed for 1691 yards last season, and was a second team All-American. By the way, those 1691 yards was a new school record for the Seminoles. Cook also led the nation in yards after contact.
3.2 yards on the ground after first contact by the defense. That's impressive. If Cook remains healthy and the Seminoles have the kind of season they're expected to have, Cook will be making that trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist.
4. Christian McCaffery-Stanford: Last year's Heisman runner-up has a chance to do something that hasn't been done since Herschel Walker in 1982; win the Heisman the year after being named runner-up. McCaffery piled up an FBS record 3,864 all purpose yards in 2015. He was the only player in the country last year to lead his team in rushing and receiving. Another similar season has his name at the top of the list.
3. Baker Mayfield-Oklahoma: Last year's Big-12 Offensive Player of the Year, finished fourth in the Heisman balloting and expectations are high for Mayfield and the Sooners for 2016. Mayfield's chances at the Heisman could really depend on how well Oklahoma does. If the Sooners do as expected and make the playoffs, Mayfield will be a finalist. By the way, blitzing him doesn't appear to help defenses. 12 of his 35 TD tosses a year ago came when he was blitzed.
2. Leonard Fournette- LSU: The SEC's top returning running back was a lock for the Heisman in 2015.....before the Tigers faced Alabama. The Crimson Tide showed every other team how to stop Fournette, and his poor performance against 'Bama ended his Heisman hopes abruptly. LSU should be better in 2016 and so should Fournette, which is a bad omen for the rest of the teams in the SEC West. A lot of folks who know these kind of things list Fournette as the favorite.
1. Deshaun Watson-Clemson: Clemson Coach Dabo Sweeney said last year that Deshaun Watson was the best player in the country and he may be right. Watson became the first player to ever pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 as he accounted for 47 total touchdowns in 2015. He was just a play or two away from leading Clemson past Alabama in the National Championship game last season, and the Tigers are ranked second behind the Tide in the first AP poll. The junior is the best player in the country and another season like 2015 puts his name on the 2016 Heisman Trophy.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.