The Heisman Trophy for the 2020 college football season will be handed out next Tuesday with Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith expected to take home the sport's biggest award. He is a -280 favorite on the moneyline odds at William Hill. SportsLine oddsmakers have taken an early, unofficial glance toward next season already and project Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler to open as the betting favorite.
Projecting early Heisman odds is more difficult than ever before because of the NCAA's granting of an extra year of eligibility to all football players (all athletes) – yes, even if they were seniors or graduate transfers in 2020. That decision, of course, was due to the coronavirus pandemic and was made in August when it looked as if only a few FBS conferences would be playing in the fall.
One big-name player who would have been out of eligibility but will now return is Miami quarterback D'Eriq King. He tore his ACL in Tuesday's Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State, but King is expected to be ready for fall camp. He threw for 2,686 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions, while rushing for 538 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Texas senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger has yet to announce if he will return to school; he left his team's bowl win Tuesday due to a shoulder injury, but it's not thought to be serious. There are also a few potential 2021 Heisman candidates who are draft-eligible underclassmen who have yet to decide on their draft status – Georgia's JT Daniels specifically stands out as one. Ehlinger and Daniels would both be among the Heisman favorites if they come back.
We are also not including on this list players who are considered locks to turn pro or already have declared as such: Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields, BYU's Zach Wilson, Florida's Kyle Trask, Texas A&M's Kellen Mond, Notre Dame's Ian Book, and Alabama's Smith, Mac Jones and Najee Harris .
Rattler opened the 2020 season as the +1200 third-favorite for the Heisman behind Lawrence and Fields and Rattler got as high as +400 following a brilliant season-opening performance against Missouri State in which Rattler was 14-for-17 for 290 yards and four scores. However, the redshirt freshman largely fell off the radar the next three games in which he totaled five interceptions and OU lost twice.
The Sooners closed the season on an eight-game winning streak and smashed Trask's Gators 55-20 in the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday night – OU will be a preseason Top 5 team in 2021. Rattler was 14-for-23 for 247 yards and three scores and also rushed for a touchdown.
Rattler was named national freshman of the year by CBS Sports, a first-team All-Big 12 selection and co-Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The No. 1 pro-style QB in the Class of 2019 by sister site 247Sports finished the season completing 67.5 percent of his throws for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven picks and rushed for six scores. He looks to have a spectacular receiving corps next season in the likes of Marvin Mims, Theo Wease, Jadon Haselwood and tight end Austin Stogner all expected back – plus a loaded receiver recruiting class.
Oklahoma quarterbacks are always going to be among the preseason Heisman favorites as long as Lincoln Riley is still the coach in Norman. It's no sure thing he is next year with NFL teams sniffing around, but that's a story for another day.
SportsLine early 2021-22 Heisman Trophy favorites odds projections (will change; only players listed who aren't draft eligible/have declared a return to school)
- Spencer Rattler +300
- D.J. Uiagalelei +400
- Sam Howell +600
- D'Eriq King +750
- Bryce Young +1000
- Kedon Slovis +1200
Who wins every NFL game this week? And which teams cover more than 50 percent of the time? Get picks here from the SportsLine Projection Model, which simulates every NFL game 10,000 times and ranked in the Top 10 on NFLPickWatch three of the past four years on straight-up NFL picks.