ESPN’s Paul Finebaum picked Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy. Lawrence is the favorite, but will he win it?
It’s the middle of April and Paul Finebaum already knows who he likes to win the Heisman.
The host of The Paul Finebaum Show picked Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence to take home the 2020 trophy on ESPN Wednesday. Even though Finebaum has deep roots in the SEC from his days at the University of Tennessee, to his popular radio show’s beginnings in Birmingham, him picking Lawrence as his early Heisman favorite is largely a no-brainer decision.
“It is Trevor Lawrence. I don’t know what Caesar’s (Palace) is thinking,” said Finebaum. “Maybe being out of the betting business for a month, they’ve lost their edge. Trevor Lawrence is going to be the odds-on favorite in my book. He was the favorite last year and Joe Burrow came out of nowhere, but Trevor Lawrence should be the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.”
At this time, the only other high-profile challenger to Lawrence has to be Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields. Unlike Lawrence, Fields was a finalist for the 2019 Heisman Trophy that went to LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow. Frankly, Lawrence should have been the fifth finalist, but that’s neither here nor there. Regardless, Lawrence has a worthy challenger in Fields.
Finebaum going with Lawrence in the heart of the offseason feels safe and is totally reasonable. Lawrence has the potential to be the greatest NFL Draft prospect since John Elway. He could be a better pro prospect than Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. He’s that can’t-miss and he’s that great of a quarterbacking talent.
However, none of those three signal-callers he’s compared to ever won the Heisman. Elway lost to Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker in 1982. Manning came up just short to Michigan Wolverines defensive back Charles Woodson in 1997. Luck finished as runner-up twice to Auburn Tigers quarterback Cam Newton in 2010 and Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III in 2011.
Simply put, we never truly know who’s going to win the Heisman. Like Finebaum said on ESPN Wednesday, it was Lawrence’s to lose at the start of 2019. Burrow came seemingly out of nowhere to rightfully take it away from him. And it won’t just be Fields how emerges as a formidable challenger to Lawrence for the 2020 Heisman Trophy.
Clemson has never had a Heisman winner, but may have two finalists for the trophy next year. Lawrence’s backfield teammate in running back Travis Etienne is the early favorite to win the Doak Walker Award. Now that Jonathan Taylor has gone pro, Etienne has to be the best running back in the country entering next season.
Of course, there are other players to keep an eye for Heisman consideration next year. Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Chuba Hubbard in an outstanding player. The SEC has a pair of quarterbacks to watch in Kyle Trask of the Florida Gators and graduate transfer Jamie Newman of the Georgia Bulldogs. Maybe quarterback Sam Ehlinger of the Texas Longhorns amazes us?
Ultimately, Lawrence is the favorite and should be at this point of the offseason. But to think he’s a lock to win it already eight months away from the trophy being handed out is foolish. He may not need to have a 2019 Burrow-esque season to win it, but he will surely face stiff competition next year. This is why Heisman races are so utterly fascinating. We never know what to expect.