Forget about Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, Will Grier and Dwayne Haskins. Despite the great seasons those four guys have had there are plenty of other under-the-radar players that deserve to be contenders for the 2018 Heisman Trophy. With the Heisman finalists being announced soon on December 3rd, lets look at those under-the-radar guys that deserve more recognition.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
Gardner Minshew has been flying under the radar all season long despite leading all of college football in passing yards, with 4,447 yards. Minshew’s most impressive statistic is his completion percentage. Minshew has completed 70.6 percent of his passes this year, which tops Tua Tagovailoa, Dwayne Haskins and Will Grier. One of the few passing statistics where Minshew does not rank at number one is passing touchdowns, yet he still ranks in the top five with 36 touchdowns. Minshew’s best performance came against Arizona where he completed 43 of his 55 passes and racked up 473 yards and seven touchdowns. Not to mention, Minshew has done all of this while leading the Cougars to a 10-2 record, which ties for the most wins in a season in school history.
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
It’s not often that wide receivers get recognition when it comes to the Heisman Trophy, but Andy Isabella definitely deserves a look. The last time a wide receiver even finished in the top three for the Heisman Trophy was in 2014 when Amari Cooper totaled 124 receptions, 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns. This year Isabella is second in the nation with 102 receptions but leads all of college football with 1,698 receiving yards. Isabella is a shifty receiver that always finds open space to be a deep ball threat, allowing him to record 13 touchdowns on the year. Isabella may play for a smaller school but he still had one of his best games against Georgia, a potential playoff team. Isabella torched the Bulldogs for 219 yards and two touchdowns, which was one of his best games all season and it certainly could be his Heisman moment.
Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
The Kentucky linebacker is an absolute sack machine. Josh Allen utilizes his speed off the line and he has become a mismatch for opposing offensive lineman. Allen has recorded 84 tackles and a whopping 14 sacks while forcing five fumbles. Allen has been a force all around the field for the entirety of the season but one of his most memorable games came against Missouri. In the 15-14 comeback victory, Allen racked up 11 tackles two of which were sacks and he also managed to force two fumbles. There hasn’t been a defensive player to finish in the top three of voting since 2012, in which Manti Te’o finished as the runner-up. Allen doesn’t have as many tackles or interceptions as Te’o did but he does have way more sacks and forced fumbles, which is why he deserves to be a Heisman candidate.
Cole McDonald, QB, Hawai’i
Cole McDonald is another quarterback that needs some more recognition. The quarterback for Hawai’i has 3,790 passing yards, which ranks ahead of Heisman favorites, Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa. While throwing for close to 4,000 yards, McDonald has also thrown for 35 touchdowns. Not only does McDonald get it done with his arm but he also does damage with his legs. McDonald has scrambled for 370 yards and four rushing touchdowns for the Rainbow Warriors. Towards the beginning of the season, McDonald had one of his best games against Navy where he completed 30 of his 41 passes for 428 yards and six touchdowns. This was only one of his many incredible games on the year, helping his Heisman stock.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
The running back for the Memphis Tigers only stands at 5’9” but he can make just about anyone miss. Once he evades a few defenders, you can count on Darrell Henderson to use his breakaway speed. Henderson is second in the nation in rushing yards, with 1,699, and he also ranks second when it comes to rushing touchdowns, 19. One of Henderson’s most impressive stats is his 8.6 yards per carry, which ranks fourth in all of college football. Henderson has also done some damage in the passing game where he has 17 receptions for 286 yards and three touchdowns. In more than half of Henderson’s games he has thrown up more than 150 yards rushing. One game that drastically helped his stock came against Navy, where Henderson ran for 212 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
The main reason these players have been overlooked is because of the teams they play for. Aside from Gardner Minshew and Josh Allen, the rest of the players are not on a team that is apart of the Power Five conferences. However, their stats clearly showcase that their talent deserves to be considered for the trophy.