Maybe it’s a little too early to be talking about the Heisman Trophy. Then again, maybe it’s not.
Frankly, ever since Alabama’s Derrick Henry was awarded the honor last season, the eyes of the college football universe have been looking ahead at 2016’s Heisman race.
There are certainly a lot of talented players in this year’s crop. Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey should make a strong case to get back to the podium, and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and LSU running back Leonard Fournette are all potential contenders.
On Monday night Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly are two Heisman dark horses, but looking back at Week 1, who stood out the most?
Two players solidified their early bids to become favorites in this season’s Heisman Trophy race.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, RB
Surprise, surprise. Had this piece been written as a preview, nobody would have batted an eye at McCaffrey being on the list, and his Week 1 performance validated those who believe he’s college football’s best player.
No. 8 Stanford beat Kansas State, 26-13, at home, and McCaffrey led the way for the Cardinal. He rushed 22 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns — averaging an extremely efficient 5.7 yards per carry with a long run of 41.
— Stanford Football (@StanfordFball) September 5, 2016
McCaffrey caught 70 passes for 40 yards, returned one kick for 28 yards and two punts for 16. He also had an unbelievable punt return that was called back because of a penalty. It won’t count in the stat books, but it was still an act of football art and a testament to just how good McCaffrey is… and can still be.
Somehow Christian McCaffrey turned this into a touchdown…
…but it was called back pic.twitter.com/WMAjP6qcqR
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 3, 2016
“That’s the best punt return that didn’t count I’ve ever seen,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said after the game.
McCaffrey certainly didn’t disappoint the college football masses with his highlights from Week 1, but if anyone’s looking for a reason why he’s so dangerous for the Cardinal, look no further than the below quote. Apparently McCaffrey wasn’t even happy with his all-around performance, which is a look into the mind of a potential Heisman Trophy winner.
“By nature, he’s not a patient human being,” Shaw said of McCaffrey. “He wants everything to be perfect. He just kept saying it: ‘We’re so much better than this. We’re so much better.’ It’s not about yards, it’s not about carries. It’s about our machine when it’s humming.”
Nick Chubb, Georgia, RB
Heading into this season the prevailing thought was that a healthy Nick Chubb was a Heisman contender, and a healthy Chubb arguably made Georgia a SEC title contender — even in head coach Kirby Smart’s first year.
Those with concerns regarding Chubb’s health this season likely feel much better heading into Week 2, because he put on a show against a very good North Carolina team. Georgia beat UNC, 33-24, and Chubb was a huge reason why.
All he did for UGA was rush 32 times for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry and had a long of 55.
There’s having a successful and positive return from injury… and then there’s this:
Nick Chubb is BACK. pic.twitter.com/t2Kfbt6ldY
— 120 Sports (@120Sports) September 4, 2016
“We won’t be the only ones that don’t make a tackle (on Chubb this season),” UNC coach Larry Fedora said after the game.
That one quote tells you all you need to know about Chubb’s campaign for the Heisman Trophy this season. He’ll be tough to stop, and heading out of Week 1 he may be the early favorite to hoist the hardware.