2022 Heisman Trophy Odds, Picks, Longshots: Jahmyr Gibbs, JJ McCarthy to Emerge as Contenders?
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: JJ McCarthy.
The beauty of the Heisman Trophy race is that in most years, we often don’t see many of the contenders coming. Sure, Bryce Young opened around +700 and ultimately won the award last season.
However, you couldn’t find preseason odds on Aidan Hutchinson (2nd), Kenny Pickett (3rd) or Will Anderson (5th). Even C.J. Stroud, who finished fourth in the voting, could be found at 40-1 last March.
Five of the last seven Heisman winners have started the year with 20-1 odds or longer. DeVonta Smith, Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson were off the radar completely before emerging with historic seasons.
There’s tremendous value if you can identify a longshot to win the Heisman Trophy in the preseason. Here are two candidates I have my eye on for this season.
Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs +5000 (FanDuel)
Alabama may have the two best players in the country in quarterback Bryce and linebacker Will Anderson.
However, neither of them has a great shot at winning the Heisman this season.
Even as a Michigan fan, I had Anderson over Hutchinson as the best defensive player in college football. Anderson led the country with 31 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks last season — and he earned a fifth-place finish in last year’s voting.
If that dominant season only got him fifth place, you have to wonder what it would take for him to actually win the award.
Alabama does have sophomore linebacker Dallas Turner emerging as an edge rusher on the other side of Anderson. Perhaps he helps Anderson draw fewer double teams to help him record 20 sacks. However, it’s hard to see Anderson winning the Heisman without contributing on offense, and Alabama does not need him to do that.
Young won the award last season, which actually hurts his chances this season. Ohio State running back Archie Griffin is the only player to win the Heisman Trophy in consecutive seasons, doing so back in 1974 and 1975.
More recently, Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel and Lamar Jackson arguably had better seasons than their Heisman-winning years, but none of them repeated. Perhaps the Heisman Trust just prefers welcoming new members.
Additionally, Alabama skill players have a history of winning the Heisman Trophy. Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry and DeVonta Smith all won the award under Nick Saban. Young was actually an outlier as the first Alabama quarterback to take home the Heisman.
However, Alabama has a third candidate who could win the Heisman this year.
Early mock drafts have running back Jahmyr Gibbs projected to be selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. While NFL scouts may have Gibbs on their radar already, the average college football fan may not. Gibbs has been hidden on struggling Georgia Tech teams in his first two college seasons.
However, Gibbs is an electric talent and possesses explosive ability in the open field.
In 19 career games, he has 1,974 yards from scrimmage to go along with 13 touchdowns. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and has proven he can catch the ball out of the backfield with 59 career catches.
Now, after transferring to Alabama, he will be on a team with a much better offensive line, which will lead to more explosive plays for him. He can also return kicks, and we’ve seen a few Heisman winners rack up signature Heisman moments on special teams.
Gibbs will play on an Alabama team that may win the national title. We already know playing on a contender is an unwritten prerequisite for winning the Heisman.
If Gibbs can produce 2,000 yards and 20 scored, he’ll be in the mix to win the award. At 50-1, he’s well worth the flyer.
Michigan QB JJ McCarthy +20000 (WynnBET)
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year at +250 on DraftKings. However, there’s much better value on his arch rival.
McCarthy was a five-star recruit in the class of 2021. In limited action last season, he flashed the arm talent that made him such a highly-touted recruit. McCarthy is still in a battle to be Michigan’s starting quarterback with Cade McNamara. However, I wouldn’t recommend him as a Heisman candidate if I wasn’t confident he’ll win the job.
Michigan returns running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, but it lost the bruiser of the group in Hassan Haskins. It also returns eight of its top nine receivers and gets back Ronnie Bell, who led the team in receiving in 2019 and 2020, from a torn ACL.
Michigan may want to throw the ball more this season to take advantage of its weapons. McCarthy is the quarterback more equipped to help Michigan do that.
Michigan opens the season with Colorado State, Hawaii, UConn and Maryland in September. McCarthy could put big numbers up in those games and establish himself as an early Heisman contender.
Then, Michigan travels to Iowa in what could be a prime-time rematch of last year’s Big Ten Championship game. Iowa routinely has strong defenses and will be a litmus test for McCarthy and the Michigan offense.
Michigan also hosts Penn State and rival Michigan State before finishing the season at Ohio State.
Last year’s version of The Game decided the Big Ten East after Michigan and Ohio State both entered 10-1. Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks in that game, which might have a little something to do with him finishing above Stroud in Heisman voting.
With Michigan and Ohio State both in position to have strong seasons, this year’s matchup will likely have major implications once again.
McCarthy has a chance to become the first Michigan quarterback to lead the Wolverines to a win in Columbus since Drew Henson in 2000. That alone will get the attention of the Heisman voters. If he does and Michigan goes back to Indianapolis and wins the Big Ten title again, Stroud will be eliminated from the race.
McCarthy will be in the spotlight as Michigan’s starting quarterback, particularly with the fan base starved for an elite quarterback.
If McCarthy fulfills his promise, you will not be able to grab this price later on season. It’s best to buy his stock now.
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