The Heisman Trophy finalists include a surprise candidate

Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, TCU’s Max Duggan, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Southern California’s Caleb Williams were announced as finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Monday night.

The award, which is voted on by more than 900 sportswriters and past winners, is presented to the top player in college football on Saturday at Lincoln Center in New York.

As evident from the list of finalists, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker was the leader of the nation’s No. 1 offense after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee before his season ended Nov. 19.

Bennett was under the radar as a Heisman candidate, and it was surprising to be a top-four vote-getter for no reason that his stats didn’t jump off the page.

“I don’t even know what to think right now,” Bennett said. “We have a lot of good players who will make me look good. This is special. This honor belongs to my teammates and this team. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the team we have. This honor belongs to them.”

Bennett, a sixth-year player from Blacksher, Georgia, knows how to win. He led the defending national champion Bulldogs to their second straight College Football Playoff appearance and is 24-1 as a starter since last season.

Stetson Bennett of Georgia
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Bennett was the Most Valuable Player of the Southeastern Conference Championship, throwing for 274 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-30 win over LSU, improving the Bulldogs’ record to 13-0.

Bennett was the quarterback in two of Georgia’s three wins over No. 1 teams. He was in control of the Bulldogs’ win over Alabama in the national championship game last January, and he passed for two TDs in a 27-13 win over Tennessee last month.

“I understand what Coach (Kirby) Smart meant when he said success comes to those who don’t seek it or are too busy to seek it,” Bennett said. “I never thought about the Heisman. I just wanted to play quarterback at Georgia. I just wanted to play football. I’m thinking about the players and the people I’m with. Whoever wins regardless, it’s a great honor to be in this group.”

Duggan led TCU to its first CFP appearance with an inspired performance in the Big 12 championship game against Kansas State.

Duggan, who had heart surgery two years ago, was at the center of one of the season’s key sequences. It happened late in the fourth quarter, when he broke loose for 40 yards and then, out of breath, ran for an 8-yard TD and completed a 2-point pass to put the Frogs back up 11 points in the fourth quarter. deficit. Duggan came up just short of the goal line on the overtime run, and the Frogs lost for the first time this season, 31-28.

“I think if you watch that game today, I think it’s clear that even if he doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy, he deserves to be in the conversation,” first-year TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “His performance has been intense week after week. This guy is one of the best players in college football. I think that’s pretty obvious.”

USC quarterback Caleb Williams
Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs
Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs
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Duggan, a fourth-year player from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was Gary Patterson’s starting quarterback for two seasons before the Dykes chose Chandler Morris over Duggan in the preseason. Duggan returned to work for the second game due to Morris’ injury and led the Big 12 in every major passing category.

Stroud, in his third season out of Inland Empire, California, is a Heisman finalist for the second year in a row. He was fourth in the voting last year. He’s the No. 1 seed this season and remains the favorite as Ohio State has put up impressive numbers in its first eight games.

But he struggled against Northwestern, the worst team in the Big Ten, and he couldn’t rally the Buckeyes in the second half of their most recent game, a 45-23 home loss to Michigan. .

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud
Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud

Still, Stroud has the top passer rating in the nation and leads the team with 37 interceptions.

Williams transferred from Oklahoma to USC in February, two months after Lincoln Riley was hired away from the Sooners.

The second-year player from Washington is responsible for 21.7 points per game. He had a strange performance in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday, injuring his left hamstring on a 59-yard run in the first quarter, but continued in the game and despite a noticeable limp 47 yards passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns. finished with a touch. -24 losses to Utah.

Williams had 37 touchdowns against just four touchdowns and a school-record 4,447 yards. Including his 10 rushing touchdowns, he had a school-record 47.

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