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  1. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State 

After coming in 4th for the Heisman Trophy in 2021, C.J. Stroud is looking to improve on that. C.J. Stroud was very inconsistent in the beginning of the season, but his season ended by winning the Big Ten Offensive Player of the year and Big Ten Quarterback of the year. Stroud had 4,435 passing yards, 44 passing touchdowns and completing 71.9% of his passes, all of those being top 5 in the country. Along with Stroud being an incredible player himself, he has a spectacular supporting cast alongside him, including junior wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who had 1,606 receiving yards, and 9 receiving touchdowns. Stroud also has sophomore running back, TreVeyon Henderson, who is both a rushing and receiving threat, having 1,560 all-purpose yards and 19 total touchdowns. Lastly, Ohio State has sophomore wide receivers, Emeka Egbuka who was a 5 star out of high school and Marvin Harrison Jr. who was a 4 star out of high school and is the son of hall of fame NFL wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and junior wide receiver Julian Fleming who was one of the best players in the high school class of 2020. Even though these three receivers did not have great production this season as they were shadowed by the trio of Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Garrett Wilson, these three receivers, Fleming, Harrison Jr., and Egbuka will all be stepping into bigger roles. Over the entire 2021 NCAA season, C.J. Stroud showed his great arm strength, but over the course of the season Stroud greatly improved his deep ball accuracy and has shown his confidence throwing the deep ball. Stroud is surrounded by deep ball threats in Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Emeka Egbuka. The issue for Stroud will be his offensive line as they were super inconsistent during the 2021 NCAA season, and they lost 2 starters on the offensive in Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Ohio State does have some solid returning pieces on the offensive line that do have some experience in Paris Johnson Jr., Luke Wypler, and Dawand Jones. With C.J. Stroud leading the show in Columbus, Ohio, the Buckeyes will have one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. If Stroud can start his season off hot, unlike how he did in the 2021 NCAA season, then he will be a huge candidate to win the Heisman       

  1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama 

Bryce Young’s trophy case was filled after the 2021 college football season, as he won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, AP College Football Player of the Year, and SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Bryce Young won all of those awards deservingly, as he threw for 4,872 passing yards, which was 2nd in the country, completing 66.9% of his passes, and he threw 47 passing touchdowns, which was 2nd in the country. The Alabama Crimson Tide lost some vital pieces of offense to the NFL, losing their top two receivers, in Jameson Williams and John Metchie III, who combined for 2,714 receiving yards last season. The Crimson Tide also lost their 4th leading receiver, in Slade Bolden and their leading rusher, in Brian Robinson Jr. Lastly, Alabama lost their most important piece of their offensive line, in Evan Neal to the NFL. Even though Alabama lost these important pieces, that does not mean that they will not be back and that can’t help out Bryce Young, as they were very active in the transfer portal, bringing in running back Jahmyr Gibbs from Georgia Tech, who should thrive on a better team, with a bigger role, and with an elite quarterback that likes to throw the ball to his running backs out of the backfield. Alabama also added two wide receivers from the transfer portal that could replace Alabama losing their top 2 receivers to the NFL, in Jermaine Burton and Tyler Harrell. Bryce Young should thrive with Jermaine Burton, as Burton has shown that he could be a great deep threat, as he has good hands and great change of direction. Bryce Young could also thrive with Tyler Harrell, as he has blazing speed, and Bryce Young proved how successful he could be with a wide receiver with blazing speed, as he was very successful last season with Jameson Williams who has great speed. Tyler Harrell is a big play waiting to happen, just like Jameson WIlliams, as Harrell averages 29.1 yards per reception. Alabama has 3 returning starters to their offensive line, in Javion Cohen, Darrian Dalcourt, and Emil Ekiyor Jr. Alabama also got Tyler Steen from the transfer portal, who has started 33 games at Vanderbilt in the last three seasons. Alabama also has JC Latham, who was a top 3 recruit in the 2021 high school recruiting class. The key to Alabama’s success and Bryce Young’s success, is how well their offensive line plays this year, as Alabama's schedule is filled with teams that have very good defensive lines. Another key to Alabama’s success is how well the players Alabama got from the transfer portal adapt to their offensive system. 

  1. Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama 

Will Anderson Jr. is looking to improve upon his 5th place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting last season. Last season, Will Anderson Jr. had 17.5 sacks, which was first in the country. Anderson also led the country in tackles for less, with 34.5 tackles for loss last season. Will Anderson Jr. was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. The Alabama defense behind Will Anderson is much improved from last season, as they made moves in the transfer portal to improve their defense, including getting former 5 star recruit, Elias Ricks from LSU. The Alabama defense also did not lose a lot of their core defensive players to the NFL draft or the transfer portal. Alabama brought back safeties Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams, defensive linemen DJ Dale and Justin Eboigbe, and linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, who all helped Alabama reach the national championship last season.  Even though Will Anderson Jr. is one of, if not the best player in the country, he will need to put up historically great numbers, as only one primary defensive player, Charles Woodson, has ever won the Heisman Trophy. Will Anderson has the potential to put up those historically great numbers in order to become only the second defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy, as he is an absolute monster off the edge with a plethora of successful pass rushing moves. 

  1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State 

Even though Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 1,606 receiving yards, which was 3rd in the country, and 95 receptions, which was 9th in the country, Smith-Njigba will have a bigger role in the Ohio State offense, as he is the clear cut number one receiving option, as both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson left for the NFL. Jaxon Smith-Njigba already has an incredible connection with his quarterback, 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist, C.J. Stroud, as Smith-Njigba is a great deep threat, averaging 16.9 yards per reception, and C.J. Stroud is comfortable throwing the deep ball with great accuracy. Even though Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s role will increase, that does not mean that he won't have help, as the Ohio State receiving still consists of Emeka Egbuka who was a 5 star recruit out of high school, Marvin Harrison Jr. who was a 4 star recruit out of high school and is the son of hall of fame NFL wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and Julian Fleming who was a 5 star recruit of high school. One of the main problems for Smith-Njigba is that wide receivers do not win the Heisman Trophy often, as only 4 wide receivers have ever won the Heisman Trophy, in  Johnny Rodgers, Tim Brown, Desmond Howard, and DeVonta Smith. Jaxon Smith-Njigba still put up elite production with two other elite wide receivers, so it will be interesting to see if Smith-Njigba could put up the spectacular numbers, with two other elite receivers on his team to win the Heisman as a wide receiver. 

  1. Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Caleb Williams stepped right in the role as the Oklahoma Sooners starting quarterback as a true freshman. Caleb Williams got his first true opportunity during Oklahoma’s 6th game of the season against Texas, when he was put in for a struggling Spencer Rattler and immediately was a star, putting up 212 passing yards, 88 rushing yards, with 3 total touchdowns and helping the Sooners come back from an 18 point deficit to win 55 to 48. After the game against Texas, Caleb Williams started 7 games for the Sooners, putting up 1,912 passing yards, completing 64.5% of his passes, with 442 rushing yards, and 27 total touchdowns. Williams also led the Sooners to a 5-2 in the games that he started, only losing to Baylor and Oklahoma State who were both ranked in the top 10, and leading the Sooners to an Alamo Bowl victory against the Oregon Ducks. After the season, Caleb Williams followed his coach at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley, and transferred to USC, so Caleb Williams will immediately be comfortable with his head coach and some of the coaching staff at USC, including Dennis Simmons, the passing game coordinator and assistant head coach at USC, who was the passing game coordinator and assistant head coach at Oklahoma last season. USC made more massive splashes in the transfer portal, other than getting Caleb Williams, to bolster their offense to help Caleb Williams  including getting wide receiver Mario Williams, from Oklahoma, who already has a good connection with Caleb Williams. USC also helped Caleb Williams by bringing in the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner, Jordan Addison from PIttsburgh, who had 100 receptions, 1,593 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. USC also brought in wide receiver Brenden Rice from Colorado, the son of NFL hall of fame wide receiver, Jerry Rice. Lastly, the Trojans brought in Travis Dye from Oregon, to replace Keaontay Ingram at running back who went to the NFL. Dye brings the Trojans a running back who has great ability to catch out of the backfield. Caleb Williams has the talent and supporting cast to win the Heisman, it will be intriguing to see how Caleb Williams plays in a new school, for a full season as the starting quarterback.