Our first poll saw four players – senior quarterback Jalen Hurts (University of Oklahoma), junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (University of Alabama), senior quarterback Joe Burrow (Louisiana State University) and junior running back Jonathan Taylor (University of Wisconsin) – stand out from everyone else, taking the top four spots. Now, not only have all four changed their order within the top five, but sophomore quarterback Justin Fields (Ohio State) has made his case, now ahead of Taylor and Tagovailoa after jumping two spots from fifth to third.
Two more Ohio State players – junior running back J.K Dobbins and junior defensive end Chase Young – make their ballot debuts, as Young is not only the first defensive player included, but nearly entered the top five, finishing five points behind Taylor.
Unlike last time, no player appeared on every single ballot, with Burrow, Hurts and Fields each left out on one. The difference between the top leaders has also diminished, showing as the season progresses, the unanimous belief in only one player’s dominance no longer exists as strongly as before.
14 KJHK sports staff members compiled their votes for who they think after nine weeks deserves to lift the trophy this December. The following is the top five vote getters, as well as all 11 players included in this week’s voting. (Each voter chose five players, with five points awarded for first place, numerically down to one point for fifth place).
1. Quarterback – Joe Burrow – Senior, Louisiana State University
There’s a new number one, both in this poll and the AP top 25, and that is undefeated Joe Burrow and his Tigers. Now 8-0 entering a bye before the highly coveted matchup in two weeks against conference rival and #2 ranked Alabama, Burrow and his team have already compiled three wins against the top 10.
Not only would Burrow be the second LSU Tiger to win the award, but he would be the fourth oldest winner in the history of the award, as he will turn 23 four days before. The Heisman favorite is the nation’s leader in pass completion percentage (78.8), along with leading the SEC with 2805 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns. His 204.5 Passing Efficiency Rating is the third best in the NCAA, behind Heisman hopefuls Hurts and Tagovailoa.
With four games remaining until the SEC Championship, the only tough game left on the schedule is slated for next week. If Burrow can come out victorious, the stage is set for him to enter the first week of December undefeated, one game away from the College Football Playoff. And if that does in fact happen, graduate-senior Joe Burrow of Louisiana State University will be the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner.
2. Quarterback – Jalen Hurts – Senior, University of Oklahoma
Coming into the season, the former Alabama starter was a strong favorite to win the award, giving Oklahoma the chance to be the first team with three consecutive Heisman winners. However, after last week’s loss to a now-ranked team, not only have his Heisman hopes decreased, but so has his team’s chances to compete in the College Football playoff.
Hurts is the only quarterback in this poll’s top eight to not be undefeated, yet his stats still do not lie. He leads the NCAA with 13.7 passing yards per attempt with a 73.9 pass completion percentage, a 224.3 Passing Efficiency Rating, and 34 touchdowns responsible for. He’s among the nation’s best with 3270 total yards and 13 rushing touchdowns (second in the Big 12), all coming as a quarterback. And to add to that, his team is the nation’s leading offense, averaging 49.3 points per game.
The only problem for Hurts is that this award may no longer be in his control. If either of his fellow undefeated competitors can win their respective conference championships, they may jump Hurts, who’s only remaining ranked game in an already depleted Big 12 conference. is against undefeated Baylor. However, there still is hope, as regardless of record, Hurts can still show that statistically, he is the single greatest quarterback in the 2019-2020 college football season.
3. Quarterback – Justin Fields – Sophomore, Ohio State University
Last time, Fields barely made it into the top five of the Heisman poll. Now, he is only slightly behind Burrow and Hurts. His team’s 8-0 record was sharpened by last week’s 38-7 dominance against then-number 13 Wisconsin. That’s only the second time the Buckeyes scored under 42 this season, making them one of the best offenses in the NCAA.
Fields’s stats are amongst the best this season, leading the Big Ten with 24 passing touchdowns, a 185.2 Passing Efficiency Rating, and 33 touchdowns responsible for, only behind Hurts by one touchdown to lead the nation.
The Georgia-transfer looks to avenge his former team as the Buckeyes are on the cusp for their third College Football Playoff appearance, looking for to win their conference championship. En route, Fields and his team have two ranked games remaining in their schedule – hosting no. 5 Penn State and visiting no. 14 Michigan in back to back weeks to close the season. If Fields can come out on top in both, he’ll be a game away from the CFP, and those games alone could be enough to push him just a step forward to give Ohio State their eighth Heisman trophy, what would be a new record.
4. Quarterback – Tua Tagovailoa – Junior, University of Alabama
2018 National Champion and Heisman runner up Tagovailoa was sure to be a Heisman favorite coming into the season, with him and Hurts as the two main front runners to begin the season. Yet, although the Crimson Tide are once again undefeated, their quarterback finished at fourth in the KJHK Heisman poll.
Tagovailoa’s three years has garnered a ton of statistical dominance, already seventh all time in the SEC with 81 passing touchdowns. This season, he leads his conference with 11.2 passing yards per attempt and a 212.4 Passing Efficiency Rating, and is in the NCAA’s top three with 27 passing touchdowns and a 74.7 pass completion percentage.
However, the reason that he is down to fourth in this poll comes to three issues: first, his team’s schedule has not been as difficult (to date) as the other players’ above him, with Alabama’s only ranked opponent being two weeks ago at then-number 24 Texas A&M. Second, his recent injury held him out of the game last season, and if that continues then his Heisman hopes may be shattered. Third, his stats are off the charts, yet the three quarterbacks above him have managed to simply rank better. And that’s that.
5. Running Back – Jonathan Taylor – Junior, University of Wisconsin
Taylor was the only non-quarterback to finish in the top seven last poll. He still remains as the only one in the top five, but this time is directly trailed by DE Chase Young, whose team he not only faced last season, but performed his worst game. It was Taylor’s first game without a touchdown, where he finished with 52 yards off of 20 attempts.
The 2018 Doak Walker Award winner (awarded to the most outstanding RB) came into the season as the best chance for a non-quarterback to win the Heisman – and he still looks like it. The Big Ten’s leader in rushing touchdowns (15) is arguably the NCAA’s best running back, ranking in the top five with 1009 rushing yards and leading the nation with 114 points.
He currently finishes at 11th in his conference with 44 rushing touchdowns in his career and fifth with 5180 rushing yards (NCAA’s 17th all time). The junior could be a stronger favorite next year, if he remains in school. Regardless, although Taylor has a lot of ground to cover to be the first running back to win the Heisman in four years, the Badger will still look to rack up his numbers for one of the greatest running back careers for this generation.