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Friday April 7 2017
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College Football: Heisman Hopefuls

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Five of the top seven Heisman vote-getters are back on the college football field this fall, making this season's Heisman watch one of the most heated in recent memory.

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, JR, Stanford – If it wasn’t for Derrick Henry on a national championship Alabama team, McCaffrey would’ve likely won the Heisman trophy after the video game-like numbers he put up in 2015. The Heisman runner-up McCaffrey broke the FBS single-season all-purpose yards record of 3,250 previously held by Barry Sanders. McCaffrey finished with 3,864 all-purpose yards, including over 2,000 yards rushing, over 600 yards receiving, and over 1,100 return yards, to go along with 14 total touchdowns.

2. Leonard Fournette, RB, JR, LSU - The overwhelming Heisman frontrunner through the first two months of the 2015 season, Fournette looks to bounce back from a rocky second half, with the help from improved quarterback play and weapons on the perimeter. On the season, Fournette carried the ball 300 times, rushing for 1953 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Tiger running back broke the century mark in all but two games, including 150+ yards rushing ten times and 200+ yards rushing four times.

3. Deshaun Watson, QB, JR, Clemson - Even though Clemson lost the national title game, Watson's performance against Alabama generated a ton of momentum for him entering the offseason, as the third-place finisher in 2015 opens as one of the favorites to win the 2016 trophy. The Tiger gunslinger threw for over 4100 yards and 35 touchdowns, with a 67.8 completion percentage. Watson also showed his dual-threat capability in running for over 1100 yards and 12 touchdowns.

4. Dalvin Cook,  RB, JR, Florida State – Cook finished 7th in 2015 Heisman voting, but the Florida State running back garnered national attention as one of the nation’s most explosive backs. In his sophomore campaign, Cook rushed for 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns, while averaging 7.4 yards per carry. As the focal point of the Seminole offense, Cook ripped of 13 runs of 30 yards or more, and eclipsed the century mark in rushing in eight games.

5. Baker Mayfield, QB, JR, Oklahoma – Coming off a redshirt season after transferring from Texas Tech, Mayfield led the Sooners to a playoff bid in 2015, throwing  for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns, and running for 405 yards and 7 touchdowns. A great fit in offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley’s system, Mayfield can use his mobility to allude defenders and extend plays. The Sooner signal-caller finished fourth in Heisman voting in 2015, but fellow Heisman candidate Samaje Perine may share some of the votes Mayfield will look to receive.

Nick Chubb, RB, JR, Georgia
J.T. Barrett, QB, JR, Ohio State
Seth Russell, QB, SR, Baylor
Samaje Perine, RB, JR, Oklahoma
Chad Kelly, QB, SR, Ole Miss

For a lot of young student-athletes, sports are essentially a hobby. They represent an activity to boost a college résumé or a tool to stay active. But for many young athletes, sports mean much more.
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