Heisman Watch 2022: Leading contenders, current odds, key moments and a Q&A with Michigan's Blake...

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

We're officially over halfway through college football's regular season, so what better time to check on the Heisman Trophy race than now?

After several high-profile games this past week, our Heisman watch has been turned upside down with three new faces on the list since our last check in -- congrats on making the cut once againC.J. Stroudand Bryce Young.

This week, you'll see our Heisman standings, top Heisman moments of the week, what to watch for in Week 8, plus a Q&A with Michigan RB Blake Corum.

Voting methodology: 13 voters ranked their top five candidates, with five points for a first-place vote down to one point for a fifth-place vote.

Top five candidates

1. Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

Total points: 61(first-place votes: 9)

Notable:Hooker has been the breakout star of the college football season so far and his best came last Saturday against Alabama. He finished 21 of 30 for 385 yards and five touchdowns as the Volunteers beat the Crimson Tide for the first since 2006.

Heisman odds:+450

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook

Total points:56 (first-place votes: 4)

Notable:Stroud has been the picture of consistency this season as the No. 2 Buckeyes are off to a 6-0 start. Stroud has thrown for over 350 yards three times this season, including his last time out when he threw for 361 yards and six touchdowns against Michigan State. He's thrown for 4+ touchdowns in four games this season.

Heisman odds: +100

Total points:36 (first-place votes: 0)

Notable:The Crimson Tide may have taken a loss at Tennessee but Young's return was still something to behold. He threw for 455 yards and two touchdowns while keeping Alabama in the game as Hooker was lighting up the scoreboard. Young is looking to be the second player in history to win back-to-back Heisman trophies.

Heisman odds: +2000

4.Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA

Total points: 19 (first-place votes: 0)

Notable: The Bruins are off to the program's best start under Chip Kelly and the success starts with the quarterback. Thompson-Robinson put UCLA on the map on Sept. 30 when he threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-32 win over a ranked Washington team. If Thompson-Robinson wants to thoroughly place himself in the Heisman conversation, a big performance in Eugene this week against Oregon will do it.

Heisman odds:+1600

5.Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Total points: 12 (first-place votes: 0)

Notable:Much like Young, one of Williams' best performances of the season came in loss. The Trojans fell late to Utah this past week but Williams threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns in the 43-42 defeat. He also ran for 57 yards against the Utes.

Heisman odds:+800

Others receiving votes (total points in parentheses): Blake Corum, RB, Michigan (8);Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina(3)

Q&A with Blake Corum

After Michigan's 41-17 win over Penn State in Ann Arbor, ESPN's Adam Rittenberg and Chris Grandstaff talked with Corum about his season and the Heisman.

ESPN: Reggie Bush has attended your last few games [as a Fox analyst]. What have your interactions been like with him?

BC: I've become really cool friends with Reggie the last couple weeks. I talked to Reggie after every game. The respect is mutual. Reggie is one of the best running backs ever, especially when you talk about college, he killed it. He told me what he thought about my cutting ability and what type of running back I am. He said I'm one of the best. He is the best, so getting those words from him meant a lot. I talked to them after the game yesterday, and then when he was leaving, the police were escorting their cars, and I was walking out with fans, and he saw me, he rolled his window down [and said], 'Keep being great.' Then he told me, 'You're the best running back in the nation.' That meant a lot. If I'm able to win the Heisman like Reggie, it would be a blessing.

ESPN: Did you see Charles Woodson at the Penn State game?

BC: Yeah, I've met Charles Woodson a couple of times. I talked to him before the game, he came up to me. Desmond Howard, I'm really cool with him. I know a bunch of guys who used to play here.

ESPN: Obviously those two guys won the biggest award you can win in the Heisman. What would it mean to be in that mix and ultimately have a chance?

BC: It would be amazing, but I'm not looking too far ahead. I'm really focused on trying to get better, how can this team get better and keep winning? When you're winning, everyone's looking at you. Those awards that happen at the end of the season, they're at the end of the season for a reason. I'm not going to win the Doak Walker [Award] today, I'm not going to win the Heisman today. I have to keep producing, I have to keep eating, and that's going to take work. Obviously, it would be a blessing to be up there on that wall next to the greats. It would be a dream come true.

ESPN: Growing up, what was your Heisman Trophy memory? What player do you remember most?

BC: I don't have too many Heisman memories, because more times than not, it's a quarterback winning it. But when I committed to Michigan, I went on YouTube and actually looked at the [Heisman] ceremonies of Desmond and Charles. Obviously, Johnny Manziel, that was cool with the money sign, that was a big year, that was fun, everyone was rooting for him. He was a heck of an athlete.

ESPN: How do you view your role last year as opposed to what they're asking of you this season?

BC: I look at it as Donovan [Edwards] took my role and I took Hassan [Haskins'] role. Hassan last year, he set it up for me. He got those hard yards, and then I come in and break a 50-yarder. It's a little different now because he wasn't really breaking too many 50-yarders. I'm still breaking some long ones, but he was getting 20-plus carries a game, really inside zone, he wasn't going outside too much. I feel like I'm that thunder with some lightning as well. That's what my role is. I can take the load and then Donovan comes in and does his thing, too. I was lightning last year. Now I get to the goal line, like third-and-1, I'm in as a power back. Red zone, I'm in.

ESPN: How important has it been for you to prove you can do that and still break a 60-yarder?

BC: It's been very important. A lot of people have doubted my durability, maybe my size, it starts with my height [5-8], but at the end of the day I'm 210 [pounds], weighed in at 212 today. So the weight isn't a problem. But being able to get 28 to 30 carries in the last four games, I feel has shown a lot to whoever may have been doubting that.

ESPN: Who have you tried to model your game after?

BC: I love Barry Sanders. He was a little before my time, so I didn't really get to watch him on TV, but I love watching him on YouTube, just how elusive he was and how he was able to get out of cuts and get out of tackles, break tackles, not get touched. I admire his style. Then, when it comes to power, because I like inside zone, I like running up the middle, I'm not afraid of contact, so I like Marshawn Lynch. He likes getting hit, he likes hitting people. He has that thing where he says, 'Hit 'em over and over and over again.' I like that mentality.

ESPN: You mentioned earlier that the Heisman is often a quarterback's award. What would it mean to win it as a running back?

BC: It would mean a lot because it is kind of like a quarterback award. Obviously, [Michigan defensive end] Aidan [Hutchinson] went last year, didn't get a chance to win it. If I'm able to go [to New York] and win it, I don't know what I would do, honestly. I just know it would mean the world to me. I would definitely have come back and give my offensive linemen and big ol' present. If I'm able to win it, I don't know what the emotions would be like. It would mean a lot, especially another No. 2 at the University of Michigan winning it. They may have to retire the jersey after that. I thought they would have already retired it after Charles, just because of the legend he is, but if someone else wins it wearing No. 2, oh man, it would be a blessing.

Top Heisman moments this past week

1. Let's be honest, Hooker's entire performance against Alabama is why he's No. 1 on the list this week. But here's one of his many dimes from the 52-49 win.

2. When the Michigan Wolverines look to closeout games, they turn to Blake Corum.

3. It might've come in a loss, but Bryce Young had plenty of fans in Knoxville nervous after his performance against the Volunteers.

Heisman game of the week

No. 9 UCLA at No. 10 Oregon (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

As previously mentioned, if Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a true Heisman candidate, this will be the game to show it -- until the USC matchup, of course. ESPN's College GameDay is heading to Eugene for the game and, with both teams in the top 10, UCLA coach Chip Kelly's return to Oregon should be one of the Pac-12's most electric games of the season. Oh, and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix isn't too shabby, either.

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