2022 Heisman Trophy Candidates: Big 12 Conference

In recent years, the Big 12 has done well in Heisman Trophy voting. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray won Heismans for the conference in 2017 and 2018 with the Oklahoma Sooners. Dede Westbrook was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2016 at Oklahoma. Going back several years, Robert Griffin won the Heisman with Baylor in 2011. Sam Bradford won with Oklahoma in 2008. Jason White of Oklahoma won in 2003. There is a significant Heisman heritage in the Big 12, even though the conference has existed for only 26 years. Is there another Heisman season waiting to unfold in 2022? If it does, chances are one of these four players will lift the stiff-arm trophy in New York this December.

Bijan Robinson, Running Back, Texas

Compared to the other three players on this list, Bijan Robinson has the most upside as an NFL player. He has the brightest pro future, and he is probably the best player in the conference if one was to take a poll (certainly on the offensive side of the ball). Texas had a bad season in 2021, but Robinson thrilled fans and observers. He is simply an electric player with incredible upside. Tough, agile, balanced, and fast, Robinson is the complete package. He can get the tough yards between the tackles but can also race away from defenders if he gets past the first level and into open space. It would certainly help Robinson’s Heisman candidacy if Texas is significantly better this year than it was in 2021, but most of all, Texas has to play extremely well against Alabama on Sept. 10 in Week 2 of the season. Robinson needs to play his best game of the year against Alabama, and then his second-best game of the year later in the season against Oklahoma. If he does those two things, and Texas wins at least nine games this season, Robinson will definitely get a large stack of Heisman votes, possibly enough to become a finalist. If Texas gets blown out by Alabama, however, that’s it. Robinson’s Heisman hopes would die right then and there in the early part of the regular season.

Dillon Gabriel, Quarterback, Oklahoma

The former UCF quarterback has a very daunting but easy-to-understand mission: Lead Oklahoma to a conference championship in 2022. Oklahoma won six straight Big 12 titles from 2015 through 2020 but then lost hold of the Big 12 last year when Baylor beat Oklahoma State in the championship game. If Oklahoma can win back the Big 12, that would put Dillon Gabriel front and center in national Heisman conversations.

Quinn Ewers, Quarterback, Texas

The calculus for Ewers is similar to his teammate, Bijan Robinson: Play great against Alabama and Oklahoma. Don’t get blown out by either of those two teams. Then win at least nine games for the Longhorns this year, if not more. If Ewers can reach those benchmarks, and Bijan Robinson doesn’t play fantastic football (or is injured for a few games), Ewers could be the man who represents Texas at the Heisman ceremony.

J.T. Daniels, Quarterback, West Virginia

West Virginia has had a bad offense the past few years. Daniels transferred from USC to Georgia, then from Georgia to West Virginia, where he will reunite with his former offensive coordinator at USC, Graham Harrell. If Daniels maxes out this year and West Virginia exceeds expectations by a considerable degree, Daniels could make a darkhorse bid for the Heisman.

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