January 12, 2021

Predicting the 2021 Heisman Trophy Finalists

Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith won the 2020 Heisman Trophy, becoming the first wide receiver to win the award since Desmond Howard in 1991. Smith was, of course, a longshot to win the award as its been won by quarterbacks and running backs in recent years. 

Following an outlier of a year, things are expected to return to normalcy in 2021, at least when it comes to the Heisman Trophy. Quarterbacks once again lead the way in the early 2021 Heisman odds. 

These are the four quarterbacks who are most likely to be Heisman finalists in 2021.

Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma

As the 2020 college football campaign closed, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler is the early favorite to hoist the Heisman.

Prior to the 2020 season, Rattler was on a shortlist of favorites to be a Heisman finalist. However, a rough start to the season, including a three-interception game from Rattler, quickly removed him from that list.

As the season progressed, Rattler and the Sooners showed why he and the team were both expected to have big seasons. The Sooners finished with eight-straight wins while Rattler was playing the best football of his freshman season. 

Now with a season under his belt, Rattler should be ready to take the next step in his career and live up to those high expectations. He has plenty of other young talents around him and this Oklahoma team is likely to be competing for a College Football Playoff spot in 2021.

If they do end up with a CFP berth, Rattler is likely to be a big reason why and should be in the Heisman conversation at year’s end.

Sam Howell, North Carolina

North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell had one of the best seasons of non-Heisman finalist quarterbacks. Just a sophomore, Howell set the ACC record for most passing touchdowns by a quarterback in his first two seasons, beating out both Jameis Winston and Trevor Lawrence. Howell finished his sophomore season with 3,586 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Howell is already tied for 10th all-time in ACC career passing touchdowns with 68.

Heading into his junior season, Howell should be in line for an even bigger season in 2021. North Carolina is continuing to get better and thanks to Mac Brown’s recruiting, Howell is continuing to get an excellent supporting cast around him.

While it is still too early to say, there is a very good chance that Howell could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. As North Carolina looks to be a legit contender in 2021, Howell will need to put up career numbers. If he can do that, he can possibly cement himself as a Heisman finalist and potentially the first overall pick in the following NFL Draft.

DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson

The line of great quarterbacks at Clemson will continue next season with DJ Uiagalelei. Uiagalelei was the No. 3 overall recruit in the 2020 freshman class according to He showed that potential in his freshman season when he was called upon to replace Trevor Lawrence, who tested positive for COVID-19.

In his limited appearances, Uiagalelei completed 66.7% of his passes for 914 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He even showed his ability to use his legs, busting off a 30-yard run in the game against Boston College.

With Lawrence on his way to the NFL, the Clemson program may not have to worry about much of a dropoff at the quarterback position in 2021. Uiagalelei showed that he is ready to take this program over.

With Clemson in line to be a powerhouse once again next season, Uiagalelei will have plenty of opportunity in that offense to put up Heisman worthy numbers in his first season as the Tigers’ new quarterback.

Kedon Slovis, USC

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis didn’t exactly have the ending to the 2020 season he was hoping for. Slovis threw for 1,921 yards and 17 touchdowns in a shortened season but also had seven interceptions, five of those in the final two games.

Nevertheless, Slovis is one of the best quarterbacks in the country who will be returning in 2021. After recent seasons of mediocrity, USC appears to be climbing its way back up to the top of the national rankings. 

The Trojans could be looking at one of their best seasons in recent years in 2021. Slovis should be in line for some big numbers in 2021 with the way the Trojans run their offense.

A wager on Slovis this earlier provides a ton of value considering the likelihood of him having a big statistical season and the Trojans rolling through a mediocre PAC-12.

Photo: Getty Images