We can talk about the Heisman Trophy favorites in the preseason all we want, but the truth is that the favorites rarely win and there's a ton of value to be found if you're willing to look a bit under the radar. Here are 10 players who might not start the season with hype, but could well end up in New York City come December. (Thanks to our friends at Bookmaker.eu, who made a book for several of these players.)
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY SportsRich Barnes
Brad Kaaya - Miami (50-to-1)
He could be the best quarterback in the country, and Kaaya has talent around him and an up-for-grabs ACC Coastal that could help the Hurricanes get to 11 wins this year. If Miami beats Florida State in Week 6, it’s game on.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
John O’Korn - Michigan (60-to-1)
This is a bet on Michigan more than O’Korn, who is the frontrunner to win the starting quarterback job for the Wolverines this year. If he performs as well as he did at Houston and if Michigan is the best team in the Big Ten -- as many expect -- it would hardly be a shock to see O’Korn in New York.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Saquon Barkley - Penn State (80-to-1)
This is a critical year for James Franklin at Penn State — he needs results. And the smartest way to get those results is to give the ball to Barkley, who had 194 yards against Ohio State as a true freshman last year. If Penn State is going to win 10 games or more, it’s going to be on the back of the running back, and that could mean monster numbers come the end of the year.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY SportsRich Barnes
Lamar Jackson - Louisville (100-to-1)
Louisville is a sleeper team and Jackson is the wily, unpredictable playmaker who could lift the Cardinals over Clemson and Florida State in the Atlantic division. He should throw for 3,500 yards and run for 1,500 more on the season, but we’ll know after Oct. 1 if he’s the frontrunner for the Heisman — the Cards play FSU on Sept. 17 and at Clemson two weeks later.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY SportsJim Brown
JuJu Smith-Schuster - USC (110-to-1)
For all the talk about UCLA, Washington, Stanford and even Oregon as a sleeper team in the Pac-12 this year, we might have forgotten about USC. The biggest problem for the Trojans is their wicked schedule. The reason they might be able to overcome that tough schedule is Schuster. The last wide receiver to win the Heisman was Desmond Howard in 1991, but Schuster has a chance to post 2,000 receiving yards this year. If the Trojans get to 10 wins, you won’t be able to deny him.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY SportsCary Edmondson
Myles Garrett - Texas A&M (125-to-1)
Defenders are always long shots and a pure defender (who doesn’t return kicks) has never won, but Garrett is just that good. If Texas A&M is a sneaky title contender, it will be because of its diabolical defensive line, led by Garrett, who had 12.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 10 hurries in 2015. Garrett could get to 20 sacks this year, and if the Aggies are soaring, that could make him a historic pick.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
C.J. Beathard - Iowa (175-to-1)
Iowa again has a chance to go undefeated. Beathard is the top returning passer (statistically) in the Big Ten, having thrown for 2,809 yards and 17 touchdowns last year on a team that contended for a playoff spot. Beathard could double those numbers this year — he’s healthy in 2016 — against a lackluster schedule and wind up in New York.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY SportsAaron Doster
Myles Gaskin - Washington (200-to-1)
Are you on the Washington bandwagon? Looking at the talent in Seattle and looking at the schedule, it’s not ridiculous to pick the Dawgs to contend for the National Championship this season. Without question, the star of the team is running back Myles Gaskin, who averaged 100 rushing yards per game last season and scored 14 touchdowns on the ground. At this price, there’s great value in buying UDub and its stud back.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
LJ Scott - Michigan State (250-to-1)
Scott will have to fight a bit for carries, but he should be the No. 1 back for a solid Michigan State team that is going to run the ball a lot in 2016. Scott put up awesome numbers last year in limited time, gaining nearly 700 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns on only 146 rushing attempts. That will be a hard clip to match in 2016, but if he can double that output on double the carries (~300 carries, 1,500 yards, 22 touchdowns) and Sparty can upend two of the three heavyweights on its schedule — Notre Dame (Sept. 17), Michigan (Oct. 29) and Ohio State (Nov. 19) — Scott is going to stand out amongst the crowd.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY SportsMike Carter
Mike Warren - Iowa State (500-to-1)
The ultimate long shot: Warren ran for 1,339 yards on 227 attempts last year, scoring only five touchdowns — decent numbers, but hardly Heisman marks. But first-year coach Matt Campbell loves pounding the rock with feature backs. Iowa State has a chance to be a .500 team this year (seriously) and with a showcase Thursday night home contest against Oklahoma on Nov. 3, Warren has an opportunity to come out of nowhere and become a household name. He's worth a buck waiver.