Las Vegas might be buying into Twitter guarantees. Either that or Matt Elam is a very smart man.
We’re just a few days past the two-year anniversary of the former Florida Gators safety’s foreshadowing tweet, where he “swore” that North Carolina State would claim a Heisman Trophy winner by the end of 2015. He was hinting at then-UF backup quarterback and teammate Jacoby Brissett, who transferred to the Wolfpack after failing to beat out Jeff Driskel during the 2011 season.
Ay world mark my worlds please! The NC STATE WOLFPACK WILL HAVE A HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS iSWEA..!
— Matthew Elam (@ElamVsElo) January 16, 2013
Per a column I posted on Monday, Brissett is one of the 31 candidates listed on Bovada’s Heisman odds for next fall. That’s something that few probably would have guessed heading into February but with a second look deserves a few shrugs of approval.
Brissett, who is entering his redshirt senior season, was an immediate upgrade at the quarterback position for NC State, which had struggled mightily to find consistency on offense between a carousel of different faces under center in 2013. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound West Palm Beach (FL) native threw for 2,606 yards and 23 touchdowns to just five interceptions in 2014, adding 529 yards and three scores on the ground while leading the Wolfpack back to the postseason and an 8-5 record.
“He’s a guy who’s not selfish and not going to do something to hurt someone else because things are not going his way. …He’s just a good teammate,” said Josh Evans, a former teammate at Florida. “I honestly believe he could play anywhere as a starter, that’s the talent he has.”
Bovada gives Brissett 33-1 odds to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy, which ranks tied for 26th behind prolific counterparts such as Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, Leonard Fournette, Trevone Boykin, and more. He’ll also have to duel it out with ACC competitors Brad Kaaya, Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson, James Conner, Justin Thomas, and Marquise Williams.
But the fact that he’s even on the list is a testament to his untapped potential and ability, and it might actually prove to be an advantage as an under-the-radar candidate from a team that could play as a real Atlantic Division sleeper.
“I’m not saying we’re going to win every game, but we have a great opportunity to do something special,” Brissett said back in August. “A lot of people don’t think it’s possible, especially coming from 3-9, but Auburn did it. It’s possible. You just have to believe.”
With an experienced quarterback that took care of the ball and had the skill set to run his offense, Dave Doeren’s second year as the head coach was a much better showing than his first. NC State graduated from an 0-8 mark against Power Five opposition and a -88 total point margin to 3-5 vs. the P5 and a +41 margin, including an impressive performance against Florida State, a 35-7 road win over rival North Carolina, and a St. Petersburg Bowl victory over UCF.
Brissett was responsible for 923 total yards of offense and eight touchdowns in those three games, and the Wolfpack will be expecting much of the same on a weekly basis in 2015.
NC State is undoubtedly headed in the right direction under Doeren, who should field an even better product this upcoming season. His five-game improvement in the win column from 2013-14 was one of the best in the nation and the program’s best since 1985-86.
He also did it with what was the third-youngest team in the country, meaning the Wolfpack are expected to return much of their core and should be considered a threat to compete with Florida State and Clemson as an ACC title contender.
And if they are in the thick of things come December, you can bet Brissett will be a major reason for the success.