First and 10: Asmussen's top 10 Heisman candidates

First and 10: Asmussen's top 10 Heisman candidates

Our college football writer's favorites for the 2019 Heisman Trophy:

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

College football knew about his potential going into the 2018 season. He showed it on the field after taking over as starter during the season. He's got a strong arm, great accuracy and seems to make all the right decisions. Plus, he proved his toughness on the run in the national title game. The hair helps, too.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

The 2018 runner-up didn't get to finish the season the way he hoped. He got hurt against Georgia in the SEC title game and got blown out in the national title game. His numbers as a sophomore were outstanding and another year of experience helps. An unknown: how the loss of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley impacts his game.

3. Justin Herbert, Oregon

The NFL loves him and had to be disappointed when he decided to return to Eugene for one more season. The Ducks have a recent history of Heisman success with the great Marcus Mariota. Obviously, Herbert needs to pile upyards and touchdowns. More important for his candidacy: Oregon winning a bunch of games.

4. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Some of the luster got wiped off the Badgers running game in 2018. Maybe the line was overrated. The quarterback situation didn't help, either. But it wasn't Taylor's fault. He actually bumped his rushing total and averaged better than seven yards per carry. This is likely his final season in Madison. He wants to go out with a bang.

5. Travis Etienne, Clemson

Yes, there are two Tigers in the top five. If the line and receivers do their jobs, there will be plenty of opportunities for Etienne to shine. He already showed his ability to find the end zone with 24 touchdowns. And he averaged an amazing eight yards per try. If Clemson gets him enough carries, look for another monster year.

6. Rondale Moore, Purdue

As a freshman, the Louisville, Ky., native lived up to the hype. He led the nation with 114 catches and was also dangerous as a runner. Coach Jeff Brohm has months to come up with new ways to get him the ball. Defenses will focus on him. It won't matter.

7. Sam Ehlinger, Texas

The quarterback made a huge jump after a so-so freshman season, throwing 25 touchdown passes with only five interceptions. He completed 65 percent of his passes. He was solid in the Sugar Bowl upset against Georgia, setting himself up for a big junior year.

8. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska

As a freshman, he threw for 2,617 yards and ran for another 629. Injuries limited him some, but he showed the ability to bounce back quickly. The star of Scott Frost's offense, the key to Martinez's candidacy is for Nebraska to return to its winning ways. Signs are pointing up in Lincoln.

9. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

What's up with the quarterbacks in the Lone Star State? Like Ehlinger, he made huge strides as a sophomore, bumping his completion percentage by six points and tripling his touchdown passes. Jimbo Fisher has the Aggies thinking big and Mond is the key to the team contending for the playoffs.

10. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Remember, the last two Heisman winners played quarterback for the Sooners. Might as well make it a threepeat. The former Alabama star found the perfect place to finish his career. Lincoln Riley is one of the bright young minds in college football and will be a great help to Hurts.

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