With National Signing Day 2019 having come and gone, which five recruits stand out as players that could one day win the Heisman Trophy?
College football recruiting and National Signing Day are, in essence, a glimpse to the future. For the most part, if you look at the top recruiting classes in the country, you’re looking at the teams that will be dominating the landscape of the sport in a few years, if they aren’t already. From an individual standpoint, though, you’re looking at the top of the player rankings and looking for potential stars, or even an eventual Heisman Trophy winner.
Of course, recruiting rankings aren’t the end-all when it comes to who will win the Heisman. After all, Baker Mayfield was a former walk-on at Oklahoma who transferred from Texas Tech, where he also walked on given that he was a nearly forgotten recruit. But still, a glimpse at the top of the rankings can give you somewhat of an idea.
This isn’t, however, just a look at the best offensive recruits in the country. Instead, from National Signing Day and before, these are the recruits that, given their talent and situation, seem poised to be a potential Heisman Trophy candidate down the line.
And, for what it’s worth, there will be no defensive players mentioned. Even if deserving, there likely won’t be a true defensive player winning the Heisman anytime soon, if at all.
John Emery Jr., RB, LSU
Though the inclusion of Joe Burrow this past season allowed the LSU Tigers offense to show more passing than what we’ve seen before from them, there’s no escaping the fact that this is a team and program that has traditionally lived by running the ball. Just recently, Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice rose to stardom, and John Emery Jr. could be the next to do so.
A 5-star recruit, the 13th-ranked overall player and the No. 2 running back in the class, Emery looks to be a modern NFL running back that can make a massive impact in Baton Rouge. With his combination of solid size and athletic traits and the offense that he’ll be featured in at LSU, he’s going to be heard from in a big way.
Jadon Haselwood, WR, Oklahoma
We’ve seen already that the Oklahoma Sooners offense is absolutely lethal in this day and age. In fact, they’ve sent four representatives to be Heisman Trophy finalists in the past three seasons, two of whom won. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were the winners, obviously, but it was wide receiver Dede Westbrook who was also a finalist in 2016.
That bodes well for 5-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood. The highest-ranked offensive player in the 2019 recruiting class, Haselwood appears to have all the tools to be a game-changing type talent out wide. When you take that and put him in Lincoln Riley’s offense, there have to be high hopes for what he can ultimately accomplish.
Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State
Jayden Daniels is not the top dual-threat quarterback recruit in the 2019 class, but that’s not what we’re looking at here. In that regard, he’s behind Bo Nix, who’s heading to Auburn. Having said that, the Arizona State Sun Devils offense is going to be much more conducive to a player of this caliber being able to step up and make a run at the Heisman.
In the case of Daniels, he’s going to need to add muscle so to not get hurt at the college level, but he has the arm and speed to truly be a dual threat player at the collegiate level and make a ton of noise. Arizona State isn’t a football powerhouse, but Daniels has the potential to make them must-watch.
Trey Sanders, RB, Alabama
With Tua Tagovailoa at the helm of the Alabama Crimson Tide offense, they have become much more of a passing attack than we’ve really ever seen. However, with Tagovailoa likely heading to the 2020 NFL Draft, the safe bet would be that they will be a run-first team after that. And that’s when Trey Sanders could be taking over the reins at running back.
The top running back recruit in this class, Sanders’ timing is fantastic for when he should take up the mantle in Tuscaloosa. Furthermore, he’s also joined in this class by the top offensive tackle in the class Evan Neal. When you look at that whole picture and at the past with guys like Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry, Sanders is certainly a player to watch.
Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
This might have been the easiest inclusion on this list given everything that we can know and project. For one, Spencer Rattler out of Phoenix, AZ is the top pro-style quarterback recruit in the country and the No. 11 player overall in this class. No matter where he went, he would be in the “future Heisman candidate” discussion. However, it’s even more so the case with him heading to Oklahoma.
The Sooners offense under Lincoln Riley has produced the last two Heisman winners, Mayfield and Murray, both of whom are — of course — quarterbacks. His offense is exceptionally kind to quarterback production and Rattler could be one of the future beneficiaries of that and turn it into another Heisman to bring back to Norman.