Two Surprising Heisman Trophy Candidates to Consider

Running back CJ Verdell #7 of the Oregon Ducks. Steve Dykes/Getty Images/AFP

We look at two underrated Heisman Trophy candidates and why they can make some noise next season and beat the college football odds.

Last season proved that being Heisman Trophy frontrunners doesn’t guarantee anything. Joe Burrow was a +20000 longshot to win the award at 5Dimes on February 26th, 2019 and we all know what happened. Keep that in mind when placing your college football picks.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 06: Running back CJ Verdell #7 of the Oregon Ducks. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images/AFP

CJ Verdell

Oregon Junior running back CJ Verdell has 27 players ahead of him in the Heisman Trophy odds board at 5Dimes. Verdell is at +8000 but remember Burrow’s example from last season. Also, three players with no odds won the award since 2009: Cam Newton, Mark Ingram and Johnny Manziel.

Justin Herbert is now in the NFL with the Chargers and with Oregon having a new starting quarterback and offensive line, head coach Mario Cristobal will turn to Verdell when he needs additional production. The talented running back is more than capable of delivering. He can have a big year.

Verdell is coming off back-to-back seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards. The Chula Vista, California native ran for 1,220 yards and eight touchdowns on 197 carries in 14 games last season but the Oregon offensive line lost four players. They do bring Penei Sewell back and his leadership can help the new recruits live up to the hype.

Joe Moorehead will be the new offensive coordinator and this also helps Verdell. Moorehead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State when Saquon Barkley shined there and he can get the most out of Verdell.

Bo Nix #10 of the Auburn Tigers. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

Bo Nix

Cam Newton put Auburn on his back when he led them to a National Championship in 2010. Newton to Heisman Trophy that year and a big season from Bo Nix can help his case to take the prestigious award home.

Ten years ago Auburn didn’t have much talent on the roster but Newton still found a way to carry the team all the way to the National Championship. Can Box Nix do the same? What kind of leap can he make next season? How will he develop under new offensive coordinator Chad Morris?

Morris, a former head coach at Arkansas, can help Nix improve as a passer. Nix completed 217 of 377 passes for 2,542 yards and 16 touchdowns with six interceptions in 13 games as a freshman. Morris will open the offense and that will benefit Auburn tremendously. Nix had 57.6 completion percentage and he needs to be more effective.

If Nix manages to improve as a passer, defenses will worry and it will help open lanes for him as a runner. Nix ran for 313 yards and seven touchdowns on 97 carries, averaging 3.2 yards per attempt and he has to exploit this skill more next season because it is a big part of his game.

Auburn has to play Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama… they clearly need to put up points on the board if they want to be competitive against these three teams. This means that Nix has to step up to the challenge, produce, inspire his teammates and make them better. Bo Nix is at +3000 to win the Heisman Trophy at 5Dimes and he’s worth consideration at this price.