If history were a reliable predictor of success in college football, Michigan would've beat Appalachian State and Chris Davis wouldn't have returned Adam Griffith's field goal for a touchdown. Nonetheless, it's difficult to ignore a decade-long stretch that has produced parity and excitement that drives college football.
Since the 2005 Heisman Trophy vote, 110 players have finished in the top 10 (including repeats), and only 39 players returned for at least one more season of college football. Just 20 of those 39 players finished in the top 10 the following year. Twelve of the 20 finished in the top five; nine finished in the top three; and three were runner-ups, most recently Deshaun Watson, a third-place finisher in 2015 who finished second in 2016. The 20 back-to-back top-10 vote-getters had an average finish of 5.4 the second year.
Not a single one of the 39 won the Heisman the next year.
Put it another way: No player who finished in the top 10 of the Heisman vote went on to win it the following year.
MORE: Heisman Trophy Odds for Top 2017 Candidates
Three players who finished in the top 10 of 2016 Heisman voting will return in 2017, including — for the sixth time since the 2008 season — the reigning Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson. If Jackson — or third-place finisher Baker Mayfield or sixth-place finisher Jake Browning — wins the 2017 Heisman Trophy, it will be the first time since Reggie Bush in 2005 that a player has won the honor one year after a top-10 finish.
|10 (Tie)||Dalvin Cook||Florida State||RB||67|
|10 (Tie)||Donnel Pumphrey||San Diego State||RB||67|
Those who could stretch the non-top-10 streak to 12 years include quarterbacks J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Sam Darnold (USC) or Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State). Running backs who might contend for the Heisman include Saquon Barkley (Penn State), Bo Scarbrough (Alabama) and Derrius Guice (LSU).
Others to keep an eye on: receivers James Washington (Oklahoma State) and Christian Kirk (Texas A&M), defensive back Derwin James (Florida State) and defensive linemen Christian Wilkins (Clemson), Ed Oliver (Houston) and Arden Key (LSU).