8. UCLA QB JOSH ROSEN
Pundits were perhaps too quick to anoint Josh Rosen a Heisman contender in his true freshman, 2015 campaign. One game in, reporters were drawing comparisons to past Heisman winners Tim Tebow and Jameis Winston.
Despite some inevitable freshman rough patches, however, Rosen’s debut season was quite good. He completed 60 percent of his pass attempts en route to 3,669 yards and scored 23 touchdowns. Cutting down on his 11 interceptions is a must.
Rosen should thrive in a more traditional scheme, with Kennedy Polamalu taking over play-calling duties from Noel Mazzone.
7. OHIO STATE QB J.T. BARRETT
Ohio State’s season-long quarterback controversy involving J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones perhaps obfuscates just how good Barrett was in 2014. He well could have been a Heisman finalist that season, accounting for 45 total touchdowns on the year.
Tom Herman’s vacancy from the offensive coordinator role loomed large, as replacement Ed Warriner failed to play to the Buckeyes’ strengths as effectively. However, once Warriner and head coach Urban Meyer turned the reins back to Barrett in the second half of the season, some of that Heisman potential again shined through.
He rushed for 11 touchdowns, including three against Michigan’s vaunted defense, and finished the campaign with 22 total scores. An unfettered offseason as Ohio State’s clear quarterback choice should launch Barrett into the 2016 Heisman chase with renewed energy.