Column: Players to watch in Heisman race

Posted on Aug 30 2018 - 5:50am by Josh Gollihar

A Heisman winner needs to be the most important and electric player on his team. He needs to shoulder the workload. He needs to be on a winning team. When you watch a game of a Heisman winner, he is the one guy you notice. These four collegiate football players have the opportunity to lift that prestigious trophy at the end of the season.


A.J. Dillon, running back, Boston College: This is the guy to look out for. Important, eye-popping — that’s A.J. Dillon. As a true freshman at Boston College, Dillon carried the ball 300 times for just under 1,600 yards, scoring 14 times. He is a workhorse. He is at the center of everything that Steve Addazio’s Eagles want to do offensively. At 6 feet tall and 245 pounds, he is a problem for defenses. His 23 rushing attempts per game will quickly wear down a defense. If he can up his freshman numbers, he should expect an invite to New York.

Bryce Love, running back, Stanford: A Stanford running back will be in the Heisman conversation again this year, as Bryce Love should probably be the favorite to win the coveted award. His 8.1 yards per rushing attempt led to him crossing the 2,000-yard threshold in 2017. 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns are nothing to scoff at. Expect the senior to show out in some Pac-12 after-dark action. He only caught the ball six times last year, so head coach David Shaw should look to utilize him more, out of the backfield. Love may look like a scatback, but he will carry the team on his back to the end zone before limping away to the sideline. He is an easy guy to cheer for.

Defensive Option

Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, Houston: Houston’s Ed Oliver is a freak. He plays as an undersized defensive tackle who sets up shop in his opponent’s backfield. He is the country’s lone chance at a defensive player taking home the trophy. In his sophomore season, he tallied two forced fumbles, one fumble return, three pass deflections, 73 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles-for-loss. This time around, Oliver will be battling for the No. 1 spot in next year’s NFL Draft, so his production should be similar. There will not be a game this season in which he is not the best player on the field.

My Prediction

Will Grier, quarterback, West Virginia: You may remember Grier dismantling the No. 3 Rebels back in 2015, when he was at Florida. That would be his one shining moment with the Gators before getting busted for performance-enhancing drugs. He has since transferred to West Virginia, where he is about to begin his second season in Dana Holgorsen’s air raid offense. Gary Jennings Jr. and David Sills are considered among the top-five wide receiver duos in the country. The Mountaineers will be contending for a Big 12 title and a berth in the College Football Playoff. The Heisman loves honoring great players on good teams. If West Virginia can make noise in its conference, expect Grier to get some Heisman hype.