We’re 100 days away from college football kickoff and you know what that means: early football predictions! And more specifically talking about who might be a potential Heisman finalist for the ’22 season. Here are my top five picks for NCAAF athletes to keep your eyes on this upcoming season.
1- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama- Crimson Tide
The reigning champion returns to the NCAAF stage as a favorite to win the most coveted college football award once more as Bryce Young steps out once more as starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide. Yet, Bryce does walk into this season without two of his top receivers, John Metchie III and Jameson Williams, who left the Tide and joined the NFL after the ’21 season. While the team and fans expect players like Jermaine Burton, Christian Leary, and Jojo Earle to step up in big ways, the receiving core is not at the peak that it has been at in previous years. So although Bryce is a favorite and the reigning winner, he is not my personal favorite to win this year.
2- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State- Buckeyes
Second time around being on many watchlists, C.J. Stroud returns again after an impressive ’21 season. Though this quarterback has also lost two receivers, you can bet that with Jaxon Smith-Nijba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka at his sides, we’ll see plenty of fireworks from Stroud this upcoming season. Stroud is also many peoples favorites after his impressive game against Michigan State with 432 yards and six touchdowns in just barely three quarters, this quarterback shows he is a force to be reckoned with on the field. He is many people’s personal favorites amongst all the candidates.
3- Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami- Hurricanes
With the Miami Hurricanes tiptoeing the line of returning to be a respected ACC power once more, we should take a closer look at their young quarterback. Tyler Van Dyke was a freshman last year whom the team turned to late in the season and boy did he deliver for the Hurricanes. With Mario Cristobal stepping in to get the Hurricanes ready for the ’22 season and Josh Gattis stepping into the role of offensive coordinator, we should see big plays and numbers coming from the young quarterback over a full season. This is why Van Dyke is on my personal watchlist so early.
4- Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin- Badgers
This Badgers running back is coming off an incredible wave of a first year, playing at the college level at just 17 years old! Braelon Allen finished his impressive season with 1,109 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, putting up the highest yards per carry we’ve seen from any FBS running back with more than 100 touches. He’s headed for a potential 2,000-yard season previously accomplished by Jonathon Taylor in 2018 and ’19. Though a running back winning the Heisman seems improbable now, that might change if an 18-year-old becomes the best rusher in the NCAA. Perhaps not the top of any watchlists right now, but definitely worth mentioning and keeping an eye on for the ’22 season.
5- Will Anderson Jr., Edge Rusher, Alabama- Crimson Tide
This Alabama athlete deserved more votes in 2021 than Aidan Hutchison, the other edge rusher in the Heisman running. Even fellow teammate and Heisman winner Bryce Young commented that he was surprised that his teammate wasn’t joining him for the ceremony. Will Anderson Jr. led the country last season in sacks (15.5), ranked second for qb pressure (73), and added on 91 total tackles and 29 tackles for loss of yards. As #31 returns to the Tide for his junior season, Anderson can be expected to extend his streak of seven consecutive games with sacks. His A-Day performance was so great that the coaches put him on the bench towards the later part of the game to give the other team a chance without the threat Anderson on the opposite side of the field. Anderson is one of the few players that I will say undoubtably deserved not only to be on this year’s watchlist but should have been up there with the finalist last year. He is my number one pick for the award this year.
While everyone will want a player from their own team to make it into the finalists, these are just a few of the players that you should keep an eye on whether they are on your favorite team or not for the ’22 season. Again here are their names: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Tyler Van Dyke, Braelon Allen, and Will Anderson Jr.