When the 2018 college football season began Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was a backup. When it ended, Lawrence had just thrown for 347 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 44-16 National Championship game beatdown of Alabama. It’s not really supposed to work that way and particularly when the quarterback in question is a true freshman. In light of this performance it’s no surprise that Lawrence has been installed as an early betting favorite to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy symbolic of college football’s best player.
Lawrence is atop the Heisman Trophy futures betting market with a +350 price just ahead of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at +500. Tagovailoa’s National Championship game performance was a mixed bag as he threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions. Interestingly, another Alabama quarterback is the third choice in betting—Jalen Hurts is at +650. Last season, head coach Nick Saban utilized a two quarterback system and with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian returning there’s every reason to expect he’ll do so again in 2019.
In the current college football pecking order the hierarchy is Clemson, Alabama and everyone else. This is also true in the Heisman Trophy betting market. Lawrence, Tagovailoa and Hurts are the only betting interests available at single digit prices. After this trio there’s a log jam of six players priced at +1200 including quarterback Adrian Martinez (Nebraska), running back D’Andre Smith (Georgia), quarterback Jake Fromm (Georgia), running back Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin), quarterback Justin Fields (Ohio State) and running back Travis Etienne (Clemson).
Three more players are at +1600 including Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert and Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger. No other player is priced at odds shorter than +2500. Note that the Heisman Trophy is awarded at the end of the regular season meaning that any type of superlative performance in the bowl season—such as the one put on by Trevor Lawrence last season—wouldn’t be factored in the voting.
The Heisman Trophy has been awarded every season since 1935. The honor usually goes to a quarterback or a running back. The last player from another position to win the award was Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 who played cornerback and returned punts. Woodson is also the only primarily defensive player to ever win the award. Wide receivers Desmond Howard and Tim Brown have also also won the award along with tight ends Larry Kelley and Leon Hart.