The Heisman Award is the most prestigious award in college football, and there is a rich history associated with it Ohio State. As the home of the only two-time Heisman class winner and five other winners, the Buckeyes have consistently shown talent to have an actor at the Heisman Trophy.
Last season, the Heisman party in New York City took a violent turn against Ohio State. C.J. Stroud was one of the finalists for the Heisman contest, and he was joined by eventual winner from Alabama Bryce Young, as well as from Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Kenny Beckett from Pete at the awards ceremony. With fresh wounds, Desmond Howard snapped his photos at Stroud about the loss to Michigan in November on stage, on national television, in a moment that will linger for a long time to come.
This year, the Buckeyes will have their chance to redeem, and the list of Ohio State players who might end up in the Heisman conversation is longer than most schools. With CJ Stroud, Treveyon Henderson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba returning after huge seasons, the Buckeyes will undoubtedly have a representative in New York. And with this week being bold, I expect Ohio State to have two Heisman finalists.
Heisman’s latest double invitation to Ohio
The Buckeyes were a recent school that invited two Heisman Cup finalists to New York in 2019. This group joined a list of the few programs that achieved this in my short research, one that also includes the military. Unsurprisingly, this is not uncommon, and although schools like Ohio State and Alabama in recent years have had many players who are talented enough, one usually ends up taking the required votes from the other.
In the Buckeyes case in 2019, Justin Fields and Chase Young played on both sides of the football, meaning their matches could stand on their shoulders independently of each other. Fields has had an incredibly effective season throwing the ball with an impressive base line, including 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns in the short COVID season. Being the midfielder for the playoff team also helped immensely.
On the flip side, Chase Young was basically a one-man act of destroying the crew on occasion for the Buckeyes. With a school record of 16.5 sacks and a total of 21 losing tackles, his living on the field separated him from every other defensive player in the country in a big way. This level of play is important in a position other than quarterback, especially in defense.
Looking at recent history shows that this is all perfectly reasonable and possible for the Buckeyes. There are always challenges for two players to share glory when it comes to winning trophies, but if a team has at least two contenders, Ohio State has it. As this season approaches, the Buckeyes have three candidates with the stats to make: Treveyon Henderson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and CJ Stroud.
Looking at the stats
Looking at last year’s stats, the three Buckeyes named for Henderson, Smith-Njigba and Stroud each had special seasons, with each coming after conferences and team records. The prospect of the three playing Heisman’s level would probably be hurt by playing with each other, but in general they should be able to achieve a level of success that ensures at least two of the three get an invite to New York.
Last season, CJ Stroud spearheaded Buckeye’s attack, and had ridiculous passing stats at the start of his first year. That season, Stroud threw 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns, and completed 71.9 percent of his passes. Heading into the Michigan game, Stroud has been the bookmaker’s favorite, and if he improves his stats from last year, there’s almost no way he won’t win the award even if the record results are similar. This is why ensuring one place is easy.
The second player who should be able to come up with stats that could call him to New York is Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who has led a loaded receiver unit in every class except touchdowns. In total, Smith-Njigba had 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. The overall reception yard was good for third in the country, and the overall reception was good for the ninth. This is all while sharing football with two first-round picks at receivers in Chris Olaf and Garrett Wilson. He’ll now need some help from his roommates so teams can’t throw extra defenders in his way. If they can provide that, Smith-Njigba can improve the numbers and follow the quarterback to New York.
To build on this point, Alabama recently invited quarterback Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith to New York City. This could be an entirely possible scenario for Stroud and Smith-Njigba, as the tandem should once again share some huge stats. Since this is repeatable, this should bring some level of certainty as this is a real possibility for the Buckeyes.
Moving forward, let’s not forget about Trivon Henderson. In his first season, he took the Big Ten by storm and starred in his early performances. After getting hit a bit mid-season, he wasn’t quite able to increase his statistical output. However, he set the freshman record for touchdowns with 19, rushed for 1,248 yards and had 312 yards on top of that. Henderson’s 2,000 all-purpose yards and nearly 25 touchdowns would be reasonable enough to be called into New York if he combined those stats with some signature moments.
In all, the Buckeyes have three offensive weapons that will set monsters’ stats. If they take care of the business in the wins and losses column as well, the pre-season hype should help them weather any potential speed bumps from the electorate. With defense-related questions, having Heisman-caliber multiplayer in attack is not only a blessing, but a necessity. Two of the three should be able to find themselves heading to New York on the back of their stats and their importance to the team’s success.
Las Vegas Support
If my thinking wasn’t enough, our betting partner DraftKings has three Ohio players listed in their top 15 odds for winning the Heisman Prize. CJ Stroud is a favorite at +250, and you should get away with a minimal invite. Jaxon Smith-Njigba comes in at +3000, the second highest non-midfielder rating behind Bijan Robinson. Since Texas hasn’t had much success lately, this could become a bet on Ohio’s success versus the prospect of Texas. Finally, Treveyon Henderson comes with a top 12 odds of +4000. This award became more difficult to win appearances. Only six backstrokes have finished in the top three since 2010, and Derek Henry was the only winner during that time in 2015.
Ohio State is the only team with three top 15 players in Heisman odds, and Alabama follows with two. The reason this prediction is so bold is that it is extremely rare for players from the same team to be invited, but there are reasons to feel good about this prediction. With a long list of rectangular matches and a few filler games, the stats are a must for two of these Buckeyes for a trip to New York.