2022 Heisman Trophy Candidates: Southeastern Conference
The SEC has won each of the past three Heisman Trophies. The conference has won four of the past seven, five of the past 10, seven of the past 13, and eight of the last 15. In the past 15 years, only the Big 12, with four Heisman winners, comes particularly close to what the SEC has accomplished in the battle for the most prestigious individual trophy in college sports. The only other conference with more than one Heisman winner in the past 15 years is the ACC, with two. The SEC truly does stand apart from the rest in college football, not only in national championships and playoff berths, but also in Heisman Trophies. Therefore, the best players in the SEC have the best chance to win the Heisman or at least make the Heisman ceremony as a finalist for the award. Here are the best choices in 2022:
Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama
The defending Heisman winner will obviously have a great chance to return to New York as a Heisman finalist, but he will also have a difficult time winning the award in consecutive years. Only one man has won two Heismans, Archie Griffin of Ohio State in 1974 and 1975. Voters will want to make sure that a double-Heisman winner has completely deserved the award, and that no one else could possibly be a reasonable alternative. If it comes down to Young and another challenger, all other things being equal, the challenger is almost certain to win. Young really has to be the No. 1 player in college football by a clear margin if he wants to go back to back.
Will Anderson, Linebacker, Alabama
Many people who follow college football for a living, and who either write or talk about the sport on a regular basis, felt that Will Anderson was the best player on the 2021 Alabama team which fell one win short of a national championship, losing to Georgia in the big game in Indianapolis. Anderson was a beast at linebacker, making tons of high-impact tackles and being a connective, guiding presence for his 10 defensive teammates. He is physically punishing but also the owner of a high football IQ. That unbeatable combination makes Anderson a star and a likely top-10 draft pick next year. If a non-Bryce Young Alabama player is going to win the Heisman in 2022, this is the one.
Jaxson Dart, Quarterback, Ole Miss
The Ole Miss Rebels thrived last year behind quarterback Matt Corral, who made a good run at the Heisman but was sidetracked by injuries. Dart is a dual-threat quarterback, like Corral. If he can play 12 great games this regular season and avoid injury, he could make a serious push at the award. He would have Corral’s overall qualities but with more health and durability. Ole Miss would also need to win at least nine games, probably 10. Beating Alabama would be central to a successful Heisman candidacy for Dart.
Hendon Hooker, Quarterback, Tennessee
If Tennessee can upset Alabama, and if the Vols can win at least nine games this year if not 10, Hooker – the transfer from Virginia Tech with a lot of upside – could make some noise in the Heisman chase. He plays in a high-octane offense which will enable him to rack up huge stats. The numbers need to be there, but most of all, Tennessee has to win a big game against either Bama or Georgia to make Hooker’s Heisman chances legitimate heading into December.