SportsMap's own Heisman Trophy voter Cody Stoots weighs in on the award and more

Heisman Trophy preview and bold CFB predictions


Thanks for dropping by the article! This is my annual college football writing tradition. Every season for a few years now I have previewed the Heisman Trophy and put together some bold predictions.

It is my seventh year voting for the Heisman Trophy. It is an honor I enjoy so much and I am lucky to participate in the selection of one of the most outstanding players in college football. I play just a small part in the eventual winner hoisting the trophy but I really enjoy the process and take it very seriously.

Each Thursday you can find my Big 12 recap/weekend preview. The Big 12 season preview can be found here.

With that said, thank you for taking the time to ready. I hopefully covered your favorite football team and if I didn't you can always tweet me because I am always ready to talk college football. Find me at @Cody_Stoots

Heisman primer

Look, obviously Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa are the favorites and their teams are the favorites to win the whole thing. This is correct and no question they should be at the top of the list. It is REALLY hard to go wire to wire but these two have every chance to do it. Lawrence makes teammate's Travis Etienne's hopes hard as it is likely the quarterback will get the shine. Etienne might be the best back in the country though.

The Georgia Bulldogs are led by quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D'Andre Swift which hurts their candidacy. I don't believe Fromm will throw enough to get into the conversation with some of the elite passers. Swift, though one of the best backs in the country, will have a hard time sneaking into the conversation as it is such a heavy quarterback lean. He could go nuts and find himself in the conversation especially if Georgia plays some close ones down the stretch. Speaking of running backs Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor could have a Melvin Gordon-like appearance in the final standings. He is an absolute workhorse but the Badgers issues winning might hurt his quest for the trophy.

Oregon's Justin Herbert has the buzz with his return to school and he could get his campaign off the ground in a hurry with the matchup against Auburn opening the year. He will have to out-duel the two favorites on the stat sheet by a good margin as he will face inferior opponents than some of the teams on their schedule.

The Texas trio of signal callers could all be in the hunt as well. Sam Ehlinger at Texas leading the Longhorns through the air and with his legs would put him on the map if the burnt orange was atop the Big 12 standings. Texas A&M's Kellen Mond will play one of the toughest schedules in the country and dicing up those elite defenses could get him on the radar easily. His coach, Jimbo Fisher, has coached a Heisman Trophy winner before in Florida State's Jameis Winston. D'Eriq King at Houston might set the single-season touchdown record. If he does that, send him to New York.

Just above the Lone Star state, Jalen Hurts leads Oklahoma. It seems unlikely for him to replicate what Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray did but those two previous seasons didn't seem likely either. Stranger things have happened. A resurgent Nebraska led by quarterback Adrian Martinez could delight voters. Ohio State's Justin Fields could be this year's Kyler Murray with his dual threat ability and taking over for a successful quarterback the previous year.

Let's throw in Iowa's stud defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa, Ohio State's Chase Young, and LSU's Grant Delpit as the unlikely defensive players to make enough noise to get into the conversation.

Tua and the Texas boys

I believe Tua Tagovailoa will be joined in New York for the Heisman ceremony by Sam Ehlinger and D'Eriq King. I don't believe Trevor Lawrence or Jake Fromm will get there after sharing the spotlight with their stud running backs. Justin Herbert will get to the Big Apple as well. The Crimson Tide's signal caller takes home the award.

A new King of the touchdown record

It is incredible D'Eriq King was asked to play wideout by so many schools. It is incredible he was able to do it at Houston. It is the most incredible thing that he was on pace to beat the single-season touchdown record last year before his injury.

Colt Brennan, watch out. King is coached by a much better offensive staff this time around and if he stays healthy he is going past the 63 scores from Brennan's incredible 2006. The Cougars will need to play in the AAC title game and a bowl game for him to do it, but if he plays as well or better than last year King will have every chance to do so.

Oklahoma hangover

I don't believe the Sooners are the fourth best team in the nation and I don't believe they will hang with Texas this season. In fact, a couple of Big 12 schools could catch them. They are a machine, but they are replacing four offensive linemen and their stud wideout on offense. Jalen Hurts is a downgrade from Kyler Murray, significantly might I add. Their defense was a wreck last year and though I love their new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch I always like a one year lead before I can trust an impact from a coordinator to be huge. The Sooners might get caught a few times this season.

Coach O, oh no

I see three game the LSU Tigers could absolutely lose. @Texas, @Alabama, and vs Texas A&M are the roughest on a loaded schedule but hosting the Gators and Auburn withing a three week stint isn't easy. Utah State could be a sneaky team if they're looking ahead to SEC play.

I am not sold on Joe Burrow. He had a stretch where he threw zero touchdowns in five of six games. He regularly completed less than 60 percent of his passes. Good defense puzzles him and there are a ton of good defenses on his schedule. He's in trouble and so are the Tigers and so is Coach O after that.

Michigan's playoff march comes up short

The Wolverines could rattle off one of the most impressive resumes in college football this year. Penn State and Wisconsin on the road are their toughest games and if they roll through their schedule into the rivalry showdown with Ohio State they easily could be tasting the playoff. I don't see it if they get to that game, and frankly I don't see it at all with Michigan.

They're replacing a ton on defense and a week two trap game against Army is on their schedule. There might be a new offensive shot-caller in Ann Arbor but I can't believe Jim Harbaugh is really going to turn things over to him. A few early slips and they're in a spiral.

Say no to Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish have a matchup with Georgia on their schedule this week and that should be an amazing game in Athens. If the Irish knock off Georgia then they have a pretty smooth journey to a matchup with Michigan and after that would again be in the playoff. I'm not buying it though. Georgia early and Michigan by the time they have figured themselves out should be too much for the Irish.

Football is more fun when Notre Dame is good, and they will be good. Just not great and just not playoff bound.

Texas is back

I covered it a ton in my Big 12 preview but I believe in the Longhorns a ton this year. Their second week matchup with LSU will be huge for their resume come playoff time so they have to get that one. The Horns are back and they aren't going away anytime soon.

New Year's Day for Army

The Black Knights were one win away from finding themselves in that scenario last year. They dropped their opener to Duke and lost a nail-biter to Oklahoma a few weeks later. This year if they can keep it close or even beat the Wolverines the Black Knights have a schedule that could have them as the best non-Power five school and with that a rare humongous bowl game appearance for the program.

Pressure creates diamonds

Texas A&M is currently slated to play five games against the top 16 teams in the rankings, four against the top six, and three against the top three. Jimbo Fisher has quite the task on his hands but I guarantee you the Aggies aren't losing against Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia. They are going to beat one of those teams, and maybe two. They can absolutley beat LSU and the rest of their schedule. Fisher is going to earn his money in College Station this year.

Big Red bounce back

You will not want to Nebraska on your schedule this year. The Cornhuskers are led by one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the nation in Adrian Martinez and Scott Frost should have cleaned up some of the issues from the disappointing seasons before his arrival back in Lincoln. I don't know if they are challenging for their division crown but they're going to spoil a season of two with a big win.

USC fires Helton, hires Meyer

This isn't bold as much as it feels inevitable. Clay Helton hasn't been able to get USC rolling and Urban Meyer is "retired" doing a TV show with Matt Leinhart and Reggie Bush on Saturdays. Meyer would relish the chance to find another title at yet another school. As long as USC realizes they need something like Meyer to get back to their turn of the century greatness they'll lock him up.

Baylor and Iowa State's head coaches head out

​Baylor is going to have Matt Rhule for about 12 more games and then he is headed to the NFL. Rhule has long been rumored to go to the pros. This will be the catapult year for him with Charlie Brewer slinging it all over the field for the Bears. Washington would be smart to pair him with Dwayne Haskins.

Matt Campbell might have a spiffy new deal with the Cylcones but that doesn't mean he is unattainable for a program that might get interested in him. He's been a mid-west guy most his life so the Big Ten makes sense but don't rule out a SEC school that wants to change their program's complexion.

Top ten from Florida isn't ranked right now

Look, either Willie Taggart is a good coach or the greatest conman of all-time. We will find out this year with his Florida State Seminoles. I'm willing to overlook his disaster at Oregon and running from that job to Florida State where he took over a team that was ready for Jimbo Fisher's ability, not his. I'm buying in on Willie and company in 2019 and could see the Seminoles in the top ten this year.

Auburn finishes unranked, keeps Gus Malzahn

Gus Malzahn has a great agent and his buyout is awesome and Auburn isn't paying that to make him go away after this upcoming disappointing season. I can't see the Tigers escaping this tough schedule even with their nasty defense. Losses to Oregon and the Aggies in the first month and finishing with Georgia and Alabama has the Tigers poised for a rough year.

New playoff blood

Texas, Utah, the Big Ten champion will all be on the verge of being a new team in the college football playoff. The Pac-12 would love to have Oregon play Utah for the conference title with the winner headed to the playoff. Texas should have a second showdown with Oklahoma to make the playoff. If Michigan finally gets past Ohio State they'd be poised with the other Big Ten team to represent a new team.

The Rondale Moore show

It was quite the coup when Rondale Moore ended up at Purdue as a 4-star wideout. He was promised playing time right away and let me tell you, that was the best promise Purdue has ever made. Moore is one of the most dynamic things I have ever seen in college football. Think about if Reggie Bush got washed and dried and shrunk a little bit. He can run the ball. He can catch it. Hell he can probably kick it. Dude is must-watch TV and if you don't see it live you'll see the highlights for sure.

College Football Playoff Semifinal: (3) Oregon vs (2) Clemson

The Pac-12 makes its triumphant return to the playoff and does so at the expense of the Big Ten. The Ducks have a NFL-ready quarterback and I believe in Mario Cristobal and his Ducks. Even with the tough games at Washington, USC, and Stanford I think the Ducks can do it. This is a bet on their QB and their head coach.

I don't need to explain to you why I believe Clemson is here.

College Football Playoff Semifinal: (4) Texas vs (1) Georgia

The Longhorns have to beat LSU to be here. Simple fact. The victory over LSU would give them leeway to lose one game on their schedule and as long as they beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship they can be in the playoff. They have to beat LSU to get there though.

Georgia is my top team this year. They've played as well as Alabama plenty of times and this time I believe in them more than Alabama. The brain drain for the Crimson Tide coaching staff will finally catch up to them. Georgia has an incredible schedule compared to Clemson and their victory over Alabama in the SEC championship would cement them in the top spot.

National Champions: Georgia over Clemson

I'm feeling the Bulldogs this year. I trust their ability to pressure teams non-stop and play solid defense. I trust their line to hold up against what is a reloaded but not yet fully restocked Clemson defense. Kirby Smart has built nearly Alabama in a shorter time than Nick Saban built Alabama. Clemson is loaded, but they will lake the battle-tested level of experience Georgia will have this year.

BONUS: Smaller bold predictions

Baylor is the third best team in the Big 12

UCF loses three games this season

Michigan State finishes unranked

Mack Brown's return to college football is a disaster this year

Les Miles also has a terrible return to college football

Miles and Brown combine for four wins

Dino Babers coaches his last season at Syracuse

Mike Norvell coaches his last season at Memphis

Lovie Smith doesn't finish the year as the head coach of Illinois

Tennessee wins nine games

North Texas wins 11 games and Seth Littrell is one of the hottest coaching candidates in football

USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell takes over at North Texas

As I always do I finish with my Texas Tech prediction. I went to Texas Tech and I thought Kliff Kingsbury was worthy of one more season but alas he was shown the door. Worked out for him. I can understand moving on from him. I am skeptical of Matt Wells who was previously at Utah State but everything I hear is awesome.

Alan Bowman could be one of the three statistically best quarterbacks in the Big 12. Having to play at Texas and at Oklahoma every other year is hard. This is one of those years. I like their chances to start 3-0 but four straight losses after that isn't the wildest thing. Texas Tech has two swing games between good and bad season. Kansas State and TCU will both be game that Tech should be favored in so splitting those two would be nice.

Let's say Texas Tech goes 7-5 and plays and wins their bowl game. 8-5 and a fun bowl game? Sign me up. Guns up.

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Nick Caserio's history of drafting injury prone players has become a problem. Composite Getty Image.

Nick Caserio was hired to serve as the general manager (GM) of the Texans on January 7, 2021. Some saw it as another nod to the organization's obsession with the Patriots. Others saw it as the team finally getting their guy after pursuing him previously. They were even hit with a tampering charge while trying to talk to him about the job. Since he's been on the job, there have been highs and lows.

Recently, the news about Kenyon Green and Derek Stingley Jr put a stain on his tenure. Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR) and Stingley Jr is expected to be placed on IR, likely missing six to eight weeks, per Aaron Wilson. Both guys were Caserio's 2022 first rounders. Both guys are starting to look like busts and have fans a little more than just upset.

Green's case was curious because he was said to have needed surgery before he tore his labrum during the Saints preseason game. He had knee surgery this past offseason. There were knee injury concerns when he was coming out of A&M. Adding to his injuries, Green has played poorly. To make matters worse, the Chargers drafted fellow guard Zion Johnson two picks later. Johnson played all 17 games last season as a rookie at right guard and has moved to left guard this season. The pick used to draft Green was part of a trade back with the Eagles. They used the 13th overall pick to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a guy at a position this team could desperately use.

Stingley Jr was a highly touted recruit coming into LSU as a freshman. He played as well as any corner in the country that year. Oh, and they won a national title with arguably one of the best teams in college football history. His net two years in Baton Rouge were marred with injuries. Some believed his junior year was more him holding back to stay healthy for the draft. It worked because he was taken third overall, one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner. Gardner went on to be an All Pro as a rookie. While he's surrounded by more talent on the Jets' defense, people will forever link them because Stingley Jr hasn't lived up to expectations. He missed six games last season and is set to miss at least that many this season. When he has played, he's looked okay. “Okay” isn't what you want from a guy drafted third overall ahead of the other guy who was widely considered better than him.

For the 2021 draft, Caserio was handcuffed. He had no first or second rounders, and made a few trades that lessened his draft pool from eight to five picks. Of the five guys drafted that year, only Nico Collins seems to be a player. The 2022 draft was more productive. Although Green and Stingley Jr were the headliners and haven't played up to the hype, the others are carrying the load. Jalen Pitre and Dameon PIerce alone make that draft class dope. This past draft was seen as the one to save the franchise so to speak. Getting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr got the team a franchise quarterback and edge rusher with picks two and three overall. The price paid to move back up to three was hefty and puts more scrutiny on Anderson Jr. They appear, so far, to have also found a couple other nice players. Tank Dell being the hidden gem of this class.

While people can't, and shouldn't, base Caserio's performance strictly off of the guys he's drafted, one must call it into question. The '21 draft was a wash. The '22 draft looks suspect, but has some redeeming qualities. The '23 draft will most likely be his saving grace. But should it? Former Texans GM Rick Smith nailed almost every first rounder he drafted. Even he was almost run out of town because folks didn't like what he did. Why should Caserio be any different? So what if he cleaned up the mess by the previous regime! That's what he was hired to do!

“Keep that same energy!” That phrase is used when people try to hold others to different standards. Where's that energy everyone had for Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak, David Culley, and Lovie Smith? When others weren't performing well, their heads were called for. I see some people holding Caserio accountable. For the most part, it appears as if he's getting a bit of a pass. I'll be interested to see if this continues should the team has another subpar season. If that pick they traded to the Cardinals is another top 10 pick and the Browns pick the Texans own isn't...if Green can't come back and/or Stingley Jr doesn't show any signs of being a lockdown corner...then what? Let's hope none of this comes to fruition. If it does, we'll have to revisit this conversation.

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