Redshirt freshmen have won each of the last two Heismans, leading some to wonder whether there were any redshirt freshmen who could challenge for the Heisman in 2014.
It’s a tough question, since one never knows for certain how a freshman is going to perform. Over the years, I’ve kept tabs on incoming recruits, taking note of those who I think might challenge for the Heisman during their college careers. But those lists are based mostly on assessments of raw physical ability and projections of how players might fit into various offenses. It’s much harder to assess which players possess the mental makeup to impact a team in the early going.
Five games into the season, however, I think we do have a potential redshirt freshman candidate for 2014: Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.
It’s not the first time he’s been on my radar — he made my list of future Heisman candidates from the 2013 recruiting class — but I’m still surprised at how quickly Barrett has developed for the Buckeyes.
Barrett is fourth nationally in passing efficiency with an excellent rating of 186.34. He has thrown for 1,354 yards and 17 touchdowns with five interceptions while rushing for 276 yards and two scores. In the last three games, he’s thrown 14 touchdown passes with just one pick and the Buckeyes offense has averaged 56 points during that stretch.
Can Barrett maintain this tremendous production? If he does, he’ll likely end up with the best season for a quarterback in Ohio State’s long and illustrious history. If the Buckeyes make it to the Big Ten title game, Barrett is on pace to throw for 3,523 yards and 44 touchdowns, with 718 rushing yards and five touchdowns to boot. That’s a total of 4,241 yards of offense and 49 touchdowns.
Keep in mind that the last six Heisman-winning quarterbacks have averaged 4,292 yards of total offense and 47 combined touchdowns so, at his current pace, Barrett would end up in that statistical realm.
Could a redshirt freshman from a 12-1 Ohio State team compete for the Heisman with those numbers?
Of course, a lot has to happen before Barrett can emerge as a legitimate candidate. Besides maintaining his current production and leading OSU to the Big Ten title, a few of the more well-established contenders are going to have to fall by the wayside. This is exactly what happened the last two seasons, when first Johnny Manziel and then Jameis Winston took advantage of barren Heisman fields on their way to the trophy.
While this year’s field seems particularly deep and strong, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. And we’ll know more after game nine when the Buckeyes head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State.
So I’m fairly certain we won’t have a third-straight redshirt freshman win the Heisman. But if it does happen, it’s definitely going to be J.T. Barrett.Powered by Sidelines