Heisman Watch: Trevor Lawrence is back, but Spencer Rattler has arrived

Welcome to our first official Heisman Watch of the 2020 college football season.

Throughout the season, ESPN.com writers will vote on their top Heisman candidates. We are not including players whose fall seasons were postponed or who opted out.

To get the final rankings, we use the following methodology: 14 voters, five votes each. Points system: five points for first-place votes, four points for second-place votes, three points for third-place votes, two points for fourth-place votes and one point for fifth-place votes.

This week’s outcome has plenty of familiar names in Trevor Lawrence, Sam Ehlinger and Chuba Hubbard. But a newcomer — Spencer Rattler — is right up toward the top.

Voters: Andrea Adelson, Kyle Bonagura, Bill Connelly, Heather Dinich, David M. Hale, Chris Low, Harry Lyles Jr., Ivan Maisel, Ryan McGee, Adam Rittenberg, Alex Scarborough, Mark Schlabach, Tom VanHaaren, Dave Wilson


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1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Total points: 67 (first-place votes: 11)

Notable: Trevor Lawrence is back. Clemson’s junior QB threw for 351 yards in the Tigers’ blowout over Wake Forest and showed everyone why he may be the man to beat in the Heisman race. He threw for one TD and rushed for two more while throwing zero interceptions.

Quotable: “Trevor was amazing. He really was,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.


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2. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Total points: 43 (first-place votes: 1)

Notable: In his Sooners debut, Rattler looked the part of every other recent OU quarterback, throwing for 290 yards and four TDs in a 48-0 win over Missouri State. And it all happened in the first two quarters.

Quotable: “I think his presence in the pocket, being able to find the open receiver — he’s got a great quick release and can make all the different throws,” Missouri State coach Bobby Petrino said.


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3. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas

Total points: 41 (first-place votes: 1)

Notable: Ehlinger threw for a whopping 426 yards and a career-high five first-half touchdowns in a dominating win over UTEP on Saturday — including a 78-yarder on the first play.

Quotable: “I hope we can continue to spread the ball around to [many of our receivers],” Ehlinger said. “There’s too much talent not to.”


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Travis Etienne powers up the middle for his first touchdown of the season.

Total points: 16 (first-place votes: 1)

Notable: Etienne, who stayed in the Heisman race much of last season, continued to stand out in his first game of the season. He rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 72 carries — including one 29-yard run — in the Tigers’ win.

Quotable: “As he’s gotten stronger it has come a little easier for him,” Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “He has the best contact balance of any guy I’ve ever coached.”


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Total points: 14 (first-place votes: 0)

Notable: Last year’s leading rusher in FBS won’t take the field for another four days, but Hubbard’s 2019 season places him at No. 5 on our list. That will happen when you’re coming off a year when you ran for more than 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Quotable: “Along with Tylan Wallace and Spencer Sanders, he makes the Cowboys’ offense among the country’s most dangerous.” — ESPN.com


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Total points: 6 (first-place votes: 0)

Notable: Alabama doesn’t kick off until Sept. 26, but Harris is expected to build on last season’s 1,124 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

Quotable: “Harris has great size and speed, and he has shown good ball security.” Todd McShay


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Total points: 5 (first-place votes: 0)

Notable: With Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs off to the NFL, Waddle will get a chance to improve on his already impressive numbers from last season — 560 yards and six TDs.

Quotable: “Put the ball in his hands and let things happen. He tracks the deep ball well, isn’t afraid to work the middle of the field and shows excellent lateral agility and field vision.” — McShay


Others receiving votes:

Total points in parentheses ():

Micale Cunningham, Louisville (4); Kyren Williams, Notre Dame (4); Mac Jones, Alabama (3); D’Eriq King, Miami (2); Myles Brennan, LSU (1); Curtis Ryans, Georgia Tech (1); Ian Book, Notre Dame (1); Jonathan Adams Jr., Arkansas State (1); Derek Stingley Jr., LSU (1)