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Lawrence, Tagovailoa Open As 2019 Heisman Favorites

Profile Picture: Adam Spradling

February 27th, 2019

Your 2019 Heisman favorites are Alabama's Tagovailoa at +225, with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence pegged at +200.

The college football season feels light years away, but the oddsmakers have done their due diligence and inserted 18 players as the early leads for the Heisman futures. At the top of the board is a somewhat unexpected choice amongst 2019 Heisman favorites. Tua Tagovailoa, the unstoppable Alabama quarterback who engineered an absolute blitzkrieg on the 2018 season before plummeting back to earth in dramatic fashion to end his year, is at the head of the class.

It's not hard to remember how the 2018 Heisman market was basically Tagovailoa's to lose throughout the entire year. He didn't play in fourth quarters for the most part and still managed to rank 5th in passing yards and 2nd in touchdown passes. It all seemed to be a part of a well crafted plan blueprinted by Nick Saban. They didn't need to play their superstar late in games during blowouts, so they didn't.

But there was something wrong all along.

Tagovailoa is severely injury prone, and that issue popped up in the 2018 SEC Championship where the Crimson Tide nearly lost to Georgia in one of the most exciting games of the year. The ankle injury that the Crimson Tide had seemingly hidden finally caught up to Tua when he was sacked mid-game after completing just 10-of-25 passes for 164 yards, a touchdown and two turnovers. Jalen Hurts, who is somehow a +1200 fourth choice amongst 2019 Heisman favorites, stole the show and willed the Crimson Tide to victory.

It's not unlikely that Tagovailoa has a rebound year that replicates what he accomplished in 2018, so inserting him as the all-out favorite isn't entirely ridiculous in a vacuum. He's still one of the best quarterbacks in college. The problem? Well, he's not the best.

That distinction goes squarely to defending national champion Trevor Lawrence of the Clemson Tigers, who took the world by storm with an exhilarating performance to cap off an unbelievable playoff run. The then-true freshman Lawrence threw for 347 yards, completed 20-of-32 attempts, notched 3 touchdowns and mangled Alabama's defense en route to a 44-16 decimation. Lawrence is so captivating that people actually heavily discussed a "one-and-done" type rule in college football.

Lawrence took over as a starter early on in the season when former Clemson starter Kelly Bryant simply wasn't getting the job done. After an admittedly shaky start, the 6-foot-5 prodigy started to deliver blowout victory after blowout victory. Of course, beating up the lowly ACC list of opponents that Clemson faced on a weekly basis did much to throw the scent off the trail, but Lawrence validated himself with gusto by roasting Notre Dame on a spit, and then crushing Alabama, in the College Football Playoffs.

There's no reason that Lawrence shouldn't be the outright 2019 Heisman favorite. But all that being said, it's not like Tagovailoa - who was considered a lock throughout 2018 - walked away with the illustrious trophy. That honor went to Kyler Murray, who is projected as a first-rounder in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The argument for Tagovailoa is going to be that he plays in the gauntlet of the SEC. The argument against Lawrence is that the ACC is a brutally deficient conference. It will be a battle between the two, and Lawrence is fully capable of hanging gaudy numbers on his opponents in order to justify his Heisman campaign. As long as he's healthy, Tagovailoa will do the same.

In terms of longshots outside of the two heavy 2019 Hesiman favorites? You're going to get people touting Khalil Tate because he's an incredibly entertaining player. But the Arizona Wildcats are afterthoughts in the Pac-12 (which is becoming an afterthought of a conference as well). Ian Book will also get mention at Notre Dame, where he'll have a full off-season as the unquestioned starter and fewer distractions with Brian Kelly's full blessing. Ohio State's Jake Fields is also going to generate a lot of interest especially if he's able to pioneer the Buckeyes through the post-Urban Meyer phase of their existence.

I'm genuinely interested in the quarterback battle at Oklahoma between Jalen Hurts and Austin Kendall, but not enough to invest in either this early in the 2019 Heisman futures. Hurts is one of the most likable players in college football, but Kendall is the future of Oklahoma football. Whether or not Hurts acts as a place holder for yet another Heisman winner out of Oklahoma remains to be seen but it will be fascinating to watch.

Receivers and running-backs have been too wildly inconsistent over recent stretches to really be worth investing in. That's why I'm off Rondale Moore despite his obscene and obvious talent. As we saw last year with running backs Bryce Love and Jonathan Taylor, their value just doesn't hold over the course of a college football season. The last running back to win this award was Mark Ingram in 2009, so unless the voters plan to celebrate the 10 year anniversary by awarding it to D'Andre Swift, I'm just staying away from the skill players overall.

What we saw last year more than anything was a willingness by the oddsmakers to drop a Heisman favorite in to the minus-odds very early. The did so with Tua about halfway through the season. Whether you like Tagovailoa or Lawrence is a personal preference, but tagging them now before their Heisman odds get out of hand is going to be vital if you're hunting value. It's also worth pointing out that the two 2019 Heisman favorites have the steepest opening lines we've seen in over a decade. Tua was in the +750 range last year prior to Week 1. If you like either of the two quarterbacks, grab them sooner rather than later.

And if you're asking, I like Lawrence over Tua. August can't come soon enough.

2019 Heisman Futures

Tua Tagovailoa (QB – Alabama) +225
Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson) +200
Jalen Hurts (QB – Oklahoma) +1200
Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State) +900
D’Andre Swift (RB – Georgia) +2000
Jonathan Taylor (RB – Wisconsin) +1600
Travis Etienne (RB – Clemson) +3000
Jake Fromm (QB – Georgia) +2000
Ian Book (QB – Notre Dame) +3500
Adrian Martinez ( +1200
Justin Herbert (QB – Oregon) +2000
Sam Ehlinger (QB – Texas) +2000
Austin Kendall (QB – Oklahoma) +8000
Jerry Jeudy (WR – Alabama) +4000
Shea Patterson (QB – Michigan) +3500
Kelly Bryant (QB – Missouri) +8000
KJ Costello (QB – Stanford) +5000
Rondale Moore (WR – Purdue) +4000
*story last updated July 22, 2019

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