Football analyst Jim Mora Jr. was asked this week for his three Heisman Trophy frontrunners heading into spring football, and the former head coach included an Alabama player.
Mora listed them when talking to Claudette Pattison of All Trojans, the FanNation site for USC.
Not to give away the ending, each player in his top three were quarterbacks, with the first two returning starters:
1. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
In 2020, Rattler had 214 completions, 317 attempts (67.5 completion percentage), 3,031 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His passer rating of 172.56 was 11th in the nation. The Phoenix native was a Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist and named the National Freshman Of The Year by CBS Sports. He helped the Sooners achieve a 9-2 overall record and a 55-20 victory over Florida State in the Cotton Bowl.
"His talent was evident from the second he took the field," Mora said. "He made great throws, he could run the ball. He could extend plays, but earlier in the year he was careless with the football. Late in the year he got that figured out. Really that was a just function of maturing as a player at a school like Oklahoma under a guy like Lincoln Reily and he was spectacular late [in the season]. The way he can control his body in throwing the ball reminds me of a guy like Patrick Mahomes."
Mora added: "In my mind he is the next best quarterback in the country."
2. Brock Purdy, Iowa State
Last season Purdy had 243 completions on 365 attempts (66.6 completion percentage), for 2,750 yards and 19 touchdowns, plus nine interceptions. His 142.11 passer rating was 39th in the nation. He led Iowa State to the top of the Big 12 with a 8-1 conference record, 9-3 overall.
"He is very productive, [and] he is a winner," Mora said. "He has done things in his career that no one has ever done at Iowa State. He has got a tremendous coach in Matt Campbell. He has got a toughness about him."
3. Bryce Young, Alabama
The California native was the quarterback of the inaugural Sports Illustrated All-American team for 2019. Although his touches were limited in 2020, as Mac Jones was the leading signal caller for the Crimson Tide's national-championship run, Young did see the field in nine games. He finished his freshman season 13-of-22 passing (59.1 completion percentage) for 156 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought Nick Saban did a tremendous job this year of getting him some playing time so when he steps under center next year taking over for Mac Jones it wasn't all new to him," Mora said.
Just as a reminder, here were the initial 2021 Heisman odds after DeVonta Smith won the award in January:
Heisman Trophy Odds 2021
- Spencer Rattler - Oklahoma 5/1
- D.J. Uiagalelei - Clemson 7/1
- Sam Howell - UNC 7/1
- Bryce Young - Alabama 12/1
- D'Eriq King - Miami 12/1
- JT Daniels - Georgia 12/1
- Kedon Slovis - USC 12/1
- Breece Hall - Iowa State 14/1
- Brian Robinson Jr. - Alabama 14/1
- Emory Jones - Florida 14/1
- Jayden Daniels - Arizona State 14/1
- Michael Penix Jr. - Indiana 14/1
- Tyler Shough - Oregon 14/1
- Bijan Robinson - Texas 16/1
- Brock Purdy - Iowa State 16/1
- Graham Mertz - Wisconsin 16/1
- Kyren Williams - Notre Dame 16/1
- Deuce Vaughn - Kansas State 18/1
- Isaiah Spiller - Texas A&M 18/1
- Matt Corral - Ole Miss 18/1
- Kevin Harris - South Carolina 20/1
- Carson Strong - Nevada 25/1
- Dillon Gabriel - UCF 25/1
- Grayson McCall - Coastal Carolina 25/1
- John Metchie III - Alabama 25/1
- Jordan Addison - Pitt 25/1
- Zay Flowers - Boston College 25/1