With last season firmly in the rear-view mirror, it's tempting to spend the winter months daydreaming about what the 2018 campaign has in store, and specifically, which player will emerge as the best of the best across the nation.
So, despite kickoff being over seven months away, here are five way-too-early candidates to win the Heisman Trophy in 2018.
Bryce Love, RB - Stanford
By deciding to return for his senior season, Love - who was a Heisman finalist in 2017 - automatically became the favorite to do what Baker Mayfield did last year and elevate himself into the winners' circle. His 2,118 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 8.1 yards per carry last season were impressive enough on their own, but the fact that Love posted those stats while missing a game and a half due to injury is just silly. If he can somehow improve on those numbers, the 2018 Heisman voting could be a landslide.
Will Grier, QB - West Virginia
Despite a gnarly finger injury that cost him the last three games of the campaign, Grier still passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns. The return of receiver David Sills V will greatly benefit the quarterback, as the two connected for 18 touchdowns last season, tying Sills for the top spot in the country. Meanwhile, the departures of both Mayfield and Mason Rudolph should make Grier the biggest passing threat in the conference, and a strong season from the Mountaineers could result in him finding himself on the Heisman stage in December.
Jonathan Taylor, RB - Wisconsin
The running back claimed a significant piece of history by rushing for 1,977 yards, breaking Adrian Peterson's record for the most ever by a freshman. And without an elite quarterback, Taylor proved he can put a team on his back, leading the Badgers to a one-loss season and a victory in the Orange Bowl. The poise he exhibited was impressive from a freshman, and another year of maturation could lead to the emergence of a generational talent.
Khalil Tate, QB - Arizona
Tate arguably had the most sudden - and most dominant - emergence of any star last season, and his versatility instantly made him one of the toughest players to account for on defense.
As a sophomore, the quarterback saw limited time to open the season under former head coach Rich Rodriguez, but a thunderous 327-yard rushing performance with four touchdowns against Colorado quickly erased any doubts about his abilities. Tate now has an offensive-minded bench boss in Kevin Sumlin, and the pair could be a match made in heaven - one that could lead to Tate posting ridiculous numbers in 2018.
J.K. Dobbins - Ohio State
Despite sharing touches with Mike Weber throughout the season, Dobbins still finished 18th in the nation with 1,403 rushing yards. Strong performances against teams with stingy defenses like Wisconsin (17 carries, 174 yards) and Michigan State (18 carries, 124 yards) foreshadowed what's to come in Dobbins' career, and the Heisman voting committee should come calling if those games begin to stack up.
(Photos Courtesy: Getty Images)
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