Shortly after DeVonta Smith became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since 1991, DraftKings Sportsbook posted odds for the 2021 candidates. With all of the 2020 season’s finalists headed for the NFL Draft, there’s a fresh crop of players atop odds tables.
Spencer Rattler (+300) is the favorite to become the third Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman under Lincoln Riley. He is followed by Alabama’s Bryce Young (+400) and Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei (+650), who saw limited 2020 action behind Heisman finalists Mac Jones and Trevor Lawrence, respectively.
Texas sophomore running back Bijan Robinson (+2500) is the most likely non-quarterback to win the award after his freshman season. The last running back to win the award was Derrick Henry in 2015, while the last non-Alabama running back to win the Heisman was Ron Dayne back in 1999 (note: Reggie Bush won in 2005, but it was vacated).
2021 Heisman betting odds (January 21, 2021)
The heir to the throne
After three years of greatness, Trevor Lawrence is headed to the NFL. He led Clemson to the College Football Playoff three straight years, won a National Championship in his freshman season, claimed three ACC Championships, and finished with a 34-2 record (unbeaten in the regular season/conference championships). Those are big shoes to fill – a task that D.J. Uiagalelei (+650) will try and accomplish.
In two starts this season, Uiagalelei averaged 390.5 passing yards per game and six total touchdowns. His first start was against Notre Dame, which he took to overtime in a 47-40 nail-biting loss. Under Dabo Swinney’s tutelage and with the stud weapons that rise up at Clemson, Uiagalelei should have an easier road than most to electrifying numbers. His expectations are massive, but Clemson’s winning ways aren’t going away anytime soon.
Can Rattler continue the tradition?
Since taking over as the head coach at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley has produced two Heisman-winning quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray) and three Heisman quarterback finalists (Jalen Hurts). Spencer Rattler (+300) was among the favorites in 2020 based on Riley’s track record, but the sophomore struggled to win his first two starts against FBS opponents. With a full (hopefully) regular offseason under his belt, it’s expected that Rattler won’t repeat the same struggle he had in 2020.
Lead back Rhamondre Stevenson returns to the team for his senior year to complement Rattler, as does receiver Theo Wease. In his first year as starter, Rattler was able to win the Big 12 Championship, the Red River Rivalry, and the Cotton Bowl. He’s an accomplished player who is deservedly the Heisman frontrunner going into 2021.
An embarrassment of riches
Alabama is a wide receiver factory, often having so many weapons that their biggest stars get buried (ex. Josh Jacobs). Even 2020 Heisman winner DeVonta Smith was the No. 2 option before Jaylen Waddle was injured. It’s only fitting that an Alabama player – namely quarterback Bryce Young (+400) – is near the top of the list. This past season, Mac Jones finished top-2 in passing yards and touchdowns and led the nation in passer rating.
Young was the second overall recruit (top dual-threat quarterback) in the 2020 recruiting class out of Los Angeles. For this coming season, he has speedy receiver John Metchie III (17.8 yards per reception, six touchdowns) to fill in for Smith. With such a stacked array of weapons around him, Young should hang around the top of odds tables for this season.
Can King bounce back?
It was a tough year for D’Eriq King (+1200), who transferred from Houston to Miami in the offseason. He was denied an offseason thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic but still managed 27 total touchdowns en route to Miami’s best regular season finish (7-2) since 2017. King announced he would return to the team for a sixth season, immediately putting him in the Heisman conversation. His combination of experience and talent makes him an interesting candidate.
King suffered a torn ACL in his 2020 finale in the Cheez-It Bowl against Oklahoma State, an injury that will dictate plenty of attention this offseason. Should he be back in time for the season start, King could be an interesting candidate to have a massive comeback season.
Just three non-quarterbacks have won the Heisman Trophy since 2000, all from Alabama (Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram, DeVonta Smith). The last Texas player to win the Heisman Trophy was Ricky Williams in 1998. Sophomore Bijan Robinson (+2500) is looking to break that spell this coming season after rushing for 8.2 yards per carry (third in FBS) this past season. While Robinson remains well on the outside looking in, the last two Heisman winners began the season as longshots (Smith +8000, Burrow +20000).
Robinson dazzled in Texas’ second straight Alamo Bowl win, averaging a staggering 18.3 yards per carry on just 10 attempts. With Sam Ehlinger leaving for the NFL, Robinson will take over as the face of the Longhorns. He may still be a longshot, but Robinson is a player worth keeping an eye on. He could very well exceed expectations.