For the first time in over a decade, a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite will win the most prestigious individual honor in American sports. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will be first Heisman winner who finished in the top 10 the previous since 2004-05 when Reggie Bush climbed from fourth to first.
With Mayfield set to graduate, we are guaranteed there won't be a repeat Heisman winner for the 42nd straight year. But will another favorite capture the award? Or will a dark horse player plow past the likes of J.K. Dobbins, Kelly Bryant and Jonathan Taylor?
Here are 21 players who could win the 2018 Heisman Trophy, listed alphabetically by last name.
Cam Akers – Florida State, RB
Five-star true freshman running back Cam Akers posted 931 rushing yards and seven touchdowns as Dalvin Cook's replacement.
He averaged 5.1 yards per carry, and although the offensive system will change under new head coach Willie Taggart, it's a safe bet Akers will get at least 225 touches next season.
Nick Bosa – Ohio State, DE
It'll take a perfect storm for a defensive player to ever win the Heisman again. Nick Bosa may not lead the country in sacks, tackles for loss or highlight-reel plays in 2018 but the Ohio State defensive has the hype, name recognition and team to make a serious run.
He had 14.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks this season.
Jake Browning – Washington, QB
Barring an unexpected entrance into the 2018 NFL Draft, Jake Browning will return for his senior season in hopes of returning to his 2016 Heisman contender form.
After throwing for 3,430, 43 touchdowns and nine picks during the Huskies' playoff run, his numbers took huge hits in 2017 — 2,544 yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions.
Kelly Bryant – Clemson, QB
Kelly Bryant is draft-eligible but all signs point to the Clemson quarterback returning for his redshirt junior season.
Bryant was great but not elite in leading the Tigers to a third straight playoff berth. He needs more gaudy passing numbers (2,678 yards, 13 touchdowns, six interception) and more efficient running totals (646 yards, 3.7 yards per attempt) to have a shot.
J.K. Dobbins – Ohio State, QB
Mike Weber entered the season as a potential Heisman contender for Ohio State. True freshman J.K. Dobbins ended the season as a popular pick for the 2018 honor.
He was sensational for the Buckeyes, posting six 100-yard games while averaging 7.5 yards per carry for the season.
Travis Etienne – Clemson, RB
Travis Etienne — and Tavien Feaster (see below) — did a marvelous job replacing Wayne Gallman. Etienne averaged 7.2 yards per carry as a true freshman while registering 13 touchdowns.
While it's likely the pair will split carries once again in 2018, if Etienne becomes the lead back, he's a top-10 Heisman candidate.
Tavien Feaster – Clemson, RB
Tavien Feaster was equally valuable as Travis Etienne to Clemson's rushing attack. The sophomore had 774 total yards on 113 touches (6.8 yards per touch) and had eight touchdowns.
The same goes for Feaster. If he's the lead back, he has the all-around game to post ridiculous numbers.
Myles Gaskin – Washington, RB
Myles Gaskin had a bafflingly quiet 1,510-yard, 22-touchdown season for Washington.
The Huskies' junior averaged 6.2 yards per carry, had 18 receptions for 228 yards and had four games with at least 150 total yards.
Nick Fitzgerald hit the jackpot when Mississippi State replaced Dan Mullen with Joe Moorhead, a revered offensive guru and quarterback whisperer who worked wonders with Trace McSorley at Penn State.
Through three seasons, his numbers are nowhere near Heisman-worthy, but the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder could easily hit 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2018.
Deondre Francois' 2017 Heisman campaign lasted all of one game. The Florida State dual-threat quarterback was lost for the year in their season opener but is expected to fully recovered by the 2018 season, where he'll once again be a legitimate contender.
Jake Fromm – Georgia, QB
Jake Fromm, a five-star member of Georgia's 2017 recruiting class, was supposed to wait his turn behind Jacob Eason, a five-star member of their 2016 class.
When Eason went down early in the season, Fromm seized the opportunity and completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,173 yards (9.4 yards per attempt) and 21 touchdowns. The talent and supporting cast is undoubtedly there; he just needs more huge games.
Will Grier – West Virginia, QB
Will Grier thrived in his first season in Morgantown. The junior was explosive, efficient and reliable, posting 3,490 passing yards and 34 touchdowns.
He could cut back on the interceptions (12 in 11 games) and may need to the lead the Mountaineers to the Big 12 Championship to have a Heisman shot.
Najee Harris – Alabama, RB
The top-ranked running back (and second overall player) in the 2017 class averaged 5.6 yards per carry in eight games as a true freshman. At 6-foot-2, 227-pound, Harris is a beast of a human.
Jalen Hurts – Alabama, RB
Jalen Hurts won't ever pass for 3,500 yards and 35 touchdowns but the Tide's sophomore quarterback has the rushing totals (1,722 yards and 21 touchdowns in two seasons) passing efficiency (15 touchdowns to one interception in 2017) and title-contending team to warrant annual Heisman consideration.
Trace McSorley – Penn State, QB
Trace McSorley could skip his senior season for the NFL Draft but it's more likely the mid-to-late-round pick returns to Penn State.
He has the per-game averages to make a Heisman run but just needs more volume. He attempted fewer than 30 passes in half of their regular-season games.
McKenzie Milton – UCF, QB
The lone Group of Five player on the list, McKenzie Milton was unstoppable as a sophomore under Scott Frost. He averaged 10.5 yards per attempt, second only to Baker Mayfield, and accounted for 42 total touchdowns.
He should be just fine under new coach Josh Heupel, who developed Drew Lock into a top-tier passer at Missouri.
Miles Sanders – Penn State, RB
Miles Sanders is Saquon Barkley's replacement — assuming Barkley enters the draft as expected.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound soon-to-be junior is a former five-star recruit (No. 1 running back in the 2016 class) who's appeared in 22 games. He's averaging 7.2 yards per carry and is a capable receiver.
Jarrett Stidham – Auburn, QB
Like other quarterbacks on this list, Jarrett Stidham has the talent and efficiency to be a Heisman contender. He just needs more volume and eye-popping stat lines.
Stidham threw for 2,827 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions in his first season at Auburn. He needs more than 327 attempts in 2018 to be a contender and no dud games like he had vs. LSU (9-for-26 for 165 yards).
Khalil Tate – Arizona, QB
Khalil Tate's passing numbers were not good — 94-for-153 for 1,289 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions — yet the Arizona sophomore was still one of the more dangerous quarterbacks in the country thanks to his legs. He ran for 1,353 yards on just 133 carries (10.2 yards per carry) in 10 games.
Now he needs a huge step forward as a passer.
Jonathan Taylor – Wisconsin, RB
Jonathan Taylor got shafted. He should've been Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and a Heisman finalist but was snubbed on both accounts.
Taylor was a victim of preseason hype and perception (mostly accurate) that Wisconsin had trouble moving the ball. He had 1,847 rushing yards (6.8 yards per attempt) and 13 touchdowns as a true freshman.
Brandon Wimbush – Notre Dame, QB
Brandon Wimbush is like Khalil Tate Lite. While the passing numbers are a little better (1,818 yards, 16 touchdowns, six interceptions), he still completed just 49.8 percent of his passes in 11 games.
Wimbush did, however, have 766 yards and 14 scores on the ground.