Goz’s 2020 Heisman Trophy Ballot
For the sixth year in a row, I was fortunate enough to represent the Capital Region in New York as a voter for college football's Heisman Memorial Trophy. Below was the official ballot I cast for this year's award. Three things are important to remember 1) official voters can only cast a ballot for three players. (3 points for first place, 2 points for second, 1 point for third place) 2) My voting process follows that which is required by each Heisman voter. The award asks voters to cast their ballots for the most outstanding players in college football in the United States whose performances best exhibit the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. 3) Every single college football player in the country is eligible for the award, regardless of the level of play. 2020 posed the most unique challenges in the history of the award. Some players played abbreviated schedules. Others had games canceled due to COVID-19.
The deadline to submit your ballot was also pushed back to three weeks later than usual. Below is my official ballot for 2020 and the reasoning for my votes. Remember to tune in tomorrow as I will answer any questions about my vote on Levack and Goz. You can leave me a message on Twitter @TomGozz as soon as tonight. To listen to Levack and Goz and all 104.5 The Team sports coverage, remember to download the FREE 104.5 The Team app.
First Place: DeVonta Smith Wide Receiver Alabama Crimson Tide
For the time in six years, I cast my first-place vote for a non-quarterback or running back. This year, Devonta Smith was the best player in college football. The senior wide receiver for Alabama led the country in receptions, yards, and second in receiving touchdowns. In the most important game of the season, Smith posted an SEC title game record with fifteen receptions for one hundred eighty-four yards. In the matchup against Georgia, Smith posted an eleven catch one hundred sixty-seven and two-touchdown performance. Smith also added both a rushing touchdown and special teams touchdown during his 2020 season. DeVonta Smith was the most outstanding player on a record-setting Alabama offense in 2020. Smith's career includes setting both SEC and Alabama school records but for the Heisman Trophy, the award focuses on individual season performance. No player in college football this season was more outstanding in both helping each individual success and team success than DeVonta Smith.
Second Place: Mac Jones Quarterback Alabama Crimson Tide
Another Heisman first for me here as I cast my ballot for two players on the same team. Jones' performance for the Alabama Crimson Tide was just slightly less than Smith's. Jones posted the highest completion percentage, quarterback ratings, second in passing yards and passing touchdowns in the country this season. Late Sunday night (12/20/2020), I had Jones at third and Trask at second but after checking both player performances and team success, Jones had to be ranked higher. Yes as noted below Trask did lead the country in yards and passing touchdowns. But Jones' consistency in more categories gave him the edge over Trask. If Jones was able to lead in one more category, I could have even pushed him over his teammate DeVonta Smith. However, Smith's all-around contributions added to his resume. It did not hurt Jones' case, but it helped Smith's. Jones posted an SEC title game record four hundred eight yards and five touchdowns in Alabama's win over Florida. The most remarkable part of Jones' success is that it could have even been more. Excluding the Florida game, the Crimson Tide only had one other game where the final score was within two touchdowns. This year's Alabama defeated teams on average 50-20. The argument for Mac Jones' fans will be that Jones helped Smith's success so therefore he should be ranked ahead of Smith. Smith's season was no doubt the best at his respective position and because he could do more as a player for the Crimson Tide offense than Jones, that proved to be the difference in the first and second-place votes for me.
Third Place: Kyle Trask Quarterback Florida Gators
Kyle Trask's performance for the 2020 Florida Gators was remarkable. The Gator quarterback led the country in completions, passing yards, touchdowns, and fifth in passer rating. In the most important games of the season, the Gators did not come away with victories but it was no fault due to the play of Trask. In the Gators' three losses, Trask combined for one thousand one ninety-four passing yards and nine touchdowns. In the SEC title game, Florida's most important game of the season, Trask almost set an SEC record for passing yards, falling just a few yards short of Mac Jones. Trask's Gators should have defeated LSU but a defensive penalty resulted in the eventual game-winning field goal by the Tigers. Trask helped lead the Gators to a comeback that eventually fell short. In the team's game against Texas A&M, Florida had the lead and was driving until a teammate's fumble turned the ball over to the Aggies, resulting in Texas A&M kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired. Overall Trask's season was incredible but when we compare wins and team success against Alabama, Mac Jones' performances were better. Jones finished combined in his matchups against LSU, Texas A&M, and Georgia with more yards, and touchdowns along with team finishing 3-0 in those games than Trask and his Gators.
Why no Najee Harris? Or Trevor Lawrence? Or Justin Fields?
Of the six ballots I have cast voting for the Heisman, Najee Harris was the most difficult player I have ever had to leave off a ballot. Harris' biggest performance came in Alabama's most important game of the year as he scored an SEC title game record five touchdowns. His overall twenty-two rushing touchdowns led college football. The reason I left him off my ballot was that I struggled to build a strong enough case that Harris was even the best running back in the country in 2020. The above three candidates were the best, best and second-best players in their respective positions. Harris finished third in the country in yards and attempts on the ground. His teammate Mac Jones finished higher nationally in his passing categories. Jones matched Harris' SEC title game performance with five credited touchdowns. Above we cover the difference in the Texas A&M performance.
Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are poised to have incredible NFL careers. The problem with each player's Heisman candidacy is that they didn't play as many games as the other three players appearing on the ballot. Lawrence's team success matches that of the Alabama players, however, both Smith and Jones were more productive in more games. Trask posted better numbers than Lawrence and in starts this season, Trask finished with just one fewer win than Lawrence. If Lawrence had played more games, it is very possible he could have been a top-three candidate and potentially won the award. That just did not happen and it's unfair to the other candidates to guess/project what Lawrence's stats would have been when other players posted better numbers/performances.