The Heisman Trophy is the highest individual honor a college football player can receive. It puts you in an elite fraternity with other legends in the sport due to your stellar play for one season.
It takes a lot to win the Heisman Trophy. Players almost always have to be the best player on a team looking to win a national championship. Outliers like Lamar Jackson exist, but they are few and far between. You also need to play on a national stage to get proper recognition. This is why we’ve seen a bias against Pac-12 players in recent years.
There is also the need for a Heisman moment. Voters love the narrative, so leading your team in a big moment carries extra weight. We saw it with Johnny Manziel, Joe Burrow and Cam Newton against Alabama, but it can happen against any top team.
It never hurts to play your best ball at the end of the year, and quarterbacks get extra love. All of this points to Spencer Rattler being the frontrunner to win the award.
The Case for Spencer Rattler
First and foremost, Spencer Rattler has history on his side. Oklahoma has plenty of Heisman winners, and Lincoln Riley coached a winner in his first two seasons as the Sooners’ head coach. He led Baker Mayfield, a former walk-on, to a Heisman Trophy. The next year, he followed it up by coaching Kyler Murray to the same feat despite some saying he should be a baseball player.
Even though Jalen Hurts failed to win the Heisman, he was the runner-up in 2019. Rattler did not reach this level in his first year as a starter, but he has more experience in the offense than any other quarterback in recent memory.
Rattler also blossomed at the end of last year. If he had not struggled in the first few games, he could have been in the Heisman discussion. It is safe to say that his floor will be higher in 2021, which matters more than his ceiling.
Rattler is the frontrunner for a reason. He has one of the best offensive minds at head coach with a track record of developing Heisman quarterbacks. However, there is some bad news.
The Case Against Spencer Rattler
The fact remains that most Heisman winners come out of nowhere. Voters love a narrative, so they sometimes avoid the frontrunner. Even with clear stars, no frontrunner has won the Heisman in recent memory.
In 2020, Trevor Lawrence was the easy favorite to win the award. He failed to beat DeVonta Smith. He was also a frontrunner alongside Tua Tagovailoa in 2019, but Joe Burrow won our hearts.
It’s almost impossible to go wire to wire and win the Heisman Trophy. Everyone is hoping to trip you up, and so many things can get in your way.
Oklahoma has success with winning Heismans, but voters have grown stale on their style of play. Despite success in the conference, Oklahoma has failed to win a single game in the College Football Playoff. This causes people to discount the entire Oklahoma team, and this hurts Rattler by proxy.
There are good reasons to think Rattler will win the Heisman, but there are also arguments against him. So, is he a lock to win the award?
Is Spencer Rattler a Lock?
To put it short, no. Spencer Rattler deserves to be the frontrunner, but he is far from a lock at this point. The Heisman winner could be someone most fans can’t recognize at this point. After Smith’s surprising run to upset Trevor Lawrence last year, don’t count out anything when it comes to the Heisman Trophy.
Rattler has weapons, and he will be one of the best quarterbacks in college football. He will be fun to watch, and his charisma will help with voters. Still, anything can happen. Even with the mass exodus of quarterback talent, it is too early to crown Spencer Rattler the Heisman winner. All signs point to him at this point, but don’t consider this guaranteed money for a few months.