Heisman Watch: Tagovailoa separates self in race

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Photo Credit: Donnavan Smoot | Daily Texan Staff

As the season continues to move forward, a trio of quarterbacks continue to dominate the Heisman conversation, but a pair of outside challengers now have their eye on college football’s greatest individual award.

Here’s a look at a few Heisman favorites along with some dark horse candidates:

Frontrunners

#13 Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, No. 1 Alabama

We’re running out of superlatives to give Tua Tagovailoa. This season, he’s shown that he can perform at the highest level with the highest efficiency, week in and week out. He has yet to throw an interception or even play in the fourth quarter of a game, but his numbers are still on par with the full-game numbers of
his counterparts. 

Over the weekend, he threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns — on 13 attempts. He’s in the middle of a historic season, comparable to any Heisman-winning quarterback over the past decade. As of right now, he has an inside track to the Heisman trophy. 

#1 Kyler Murray, quarterback, No. 11 Oklahoma

Murray took the first loss of his career as a starter last week. However, it was not because he failed to do his job. Murray was as electrifying as ever in his first (and last) Red River Showdown, specifically in the second half. Oklahoma was pedestrian in the first half and for a majority of the third, only scoring 24 points. In the fourth quarter, the Sooners and their dynamic quarterback woke up. 

Murray started the fourth quarter barrage with a touchdown pass that brought the Sooners within two scores. On the next drive, he showed why he’s one of the most dangerous players in the country. After dropping back, Murray scrambled outside the pocket, scurried up the left sideline and scored a 67-yard touchdown. His performance in the second half brought Oklahoma back to tie the game, but the Sooners lost after Cameron Dicker hit a 40-yard field goal. Still, Murray’s five touchdown performance keeps him among the Heisman favorites.

#7 Will Grier, quarterback No. 6 West Virginia

Grier had a subpar game by his standards. He had his yards (332) and his touchdowns (4), but the problem was his turnovers (4). Grier has been spectacular up to this point. He’s been explosive, efficient and has the Mountaineers sitting as the last undefeated team in the Big 12. 

At this point in the season, the senior quarterback is not only playing for a Big 12
championship and a Heisman. He’s also playing for his individual draft stock. Grier is part of a class that has been labeled a defensive class. However, every year, teams trade a king’s ransom for a potential franchise quarterback. Grier would love to be the seen as the missing piece to a
team’s puzzle. 

Dark horses 

#11 Sam Ehlinger, quarterback No. 9 Texas

Although it may seem like a stretch at first, Ehlinger is creeping up many Heisman boards. He’s fixed his main issue from last year — turning the ball over. Ehlinger has only thrown two interceptions this season and hasn’t committed a turnover since Week One. He has accounted for 17 touchdowns and has Texas back in the Top 10 after the program’s biggest win this decade. With every win, Ehlinger’s stature and notoriety grows. It is going to take a bigger sample size than three games, but at the end of the year, don’t be surprised if Ehlinger is sitting in New York as a finalist.

#2 Laviska Shenault Jr., wide receiver, No. 19 Colorado

The Heisman trophy hasn’t been awarded to a player whose sole position is wide receiver since Tim Brown received the award in 1987. It will take a spectacular season by a receiver to garner the award. Right now, Shenault Jr. is in the midst of such a season. He’s on pace for nearly 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns by the year’s end. He has proven to be Colorado’s entire offense, scoring all four touchdowns in their win over Arizona State. Shenault Jr. should remain on the radar as the
season progresses.