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Penn State Football: McSorley A Legit Heisman Candidate, But Will Have To Be His Best To Get To New York

by on June 13, 2018 1:50 PM

The actual odds and ranking depend on where you look, but the point remains largely the same. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is among the favorites to give the Heisman Trophy a during the 2018-19 season.

It makes sense, McSorley is by default one of the most tenured quarterbacks in the game, running an offense that has been among the most exciting and explosive in the nation. Nobody questions his ability to make plays, be it with his feet or his arm. In turn the Nittany Lions have surged back to the national stage.

From the outset it should be said that an evaluation of McSorley's chances of winning the Heisman are more numerical than they are a reflection of his ability. Much like Saquon Barkley there's little question when it comes to his place among the nation's best. While he might not quite be on the same level as Barkley in terms of generational talent, if you hopped into a time machine and found out that McSorley had in fact won the Heisman, it wouldn't be the most shocking news you'd discover.

Nevertheless it appears that McSorley's path to the most prestigious award in the game isn't impossible, but it will take his best season yet both to get an invitation to New York.

Looking at the last seven quarterbacks to win the Heisman, McSorley isn't too far off their passing figures. Six of the previous seven had thrown for over 3,500 yards. Something McSorley has done both of the past two years. All of them have passed for more than 25 touchdowns, much like McSorley.

The challenge will come on the ground, where five of the past seven have rushed for 699 or more yards, three of those quarterbacks rushing for over 1,000 yards that Heisman winning season. McSorley himself ran for 491 in 2017-18, far from poor, but far from the four digit mark himself.

In reality McSorley's best bet might be to follow the Jameis Winston route. The Florida State quarterback through for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns while rushing for just four touchdowns and 193 yards. McSorley will, as sure as anything is, run for more yards than Winston did. A roughly 500 yard uptick in passing yards and 11 or so more touchdowns isn't impossible during a year where McSorley will have to carry more of the load.

The other six winners with McSorley posting 3,600 yards for 29 TDs and 491 yards on the ground for 11 TDs?


Baker Mayfield: 4,340 yards, 41 TDs. 311 yards rushing, 5 TDs.

Lamar Jackson's finalist years: Roughly 3,600 yards and 30ish TDs with 1,600 yards rushing and 20ish TDs on average.

Marcus Mariota: 4,454 yards and 42 TDs and 770 yards rushing for 15 TDs.

Johnny Manziel: 3,706 yards and 26 TDs with 1,410 yards on the ground for 21 TDs.

RG3: 4293 yards and 37 TDs with 1,473 yards rushing for 20 TDs.

Cam Newton: 2,854 yards passing for 30 TDs and 1,473 yards rushing and 20 TDs.


So the answer? If Penn State can make it three-straight 10-win seasons McSorley will have a shot. He just needs to crack 4,000 yards passing and get at least close to 1,000 yards on the ground. If the offense relies on him that much remains to be seen.

It's a tough ask, but doubting McSorley has never worked out for critics in the past, so never say never.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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