Heisman Race: Is Trevor Lawrence's Stiffest Competition in His Own Backfield?

Brad Senkiw

Could the odds-on Heisman Trophy favorite have too much competition from his own backfield mate to feel comfortable about winning college football's most prestigious individual award?

A panel of ESPN.com writers believe Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne are the two likeliest candidates to take home the trophy this season. But for Lawrence, who's currently 7-to-2 odds to win the Heisman according to Betonline.com, still isn't letting the race for that honor dictate his season. 

"I just want to win," Lawrence said. "If (the Heisman) comes along with it, I'd be super honored. and I'd be grateful for it and it would be really cool for myself and for Clemson, but if Travis keeps playing the way he's playing he'll have a shot."

In the ESPN ranking, the panel gave Lawrence 73 points, including 13 of the 15 first-place votes. The other two went to Etienne, who was second with 37 points. Ohio State Justin Fields, who hasn't played a game yet, was third at 27 points. 

A quartet of SEC players followed: Alabama QB Mac Jones, Florida QB Kyle Trask, Alabama RB Najee Harris and Florida TE Kyle Pitts. 


Lawrence began the 2020 Heisman race behind Fields as the second favorite, but after COVID-19 reshifted the college landscape, Lawrence found himself on top. The Big Ten initially wasn't going to play at all, giving the Clemson QB even more of an advantage, but the league reconsidered and is scheduled to begin play next week. 

Meanwhile, Lawrence has gone about his business by completing 72.4 percent of his passes for 1,149 yards and 10 touchdown passes to lead No. 1 Clemson to a 4-0 record. Dating back to last season, he hasn't thrown an interception in 355 pass attempts. He's also added four rushing touchdowns to his total this season. 

Etienne, who's moved up to seventh at 12-to-1 odds to win the Heisman on Betonline, right now could really be in his way. The Lousiana native and Clemson's all-time leading rusher has 392 rushing yards, 245 receiving yards and five total touchdowns through four games. 

The Tiger duo, though, is too focused on winning the program's sixth consecutive ACC title and getting back to the College Football Playoff. 

"I don't think about (the Heisman) too much," Lawrence said. "I think it's definitely dangerous if you start thinking about this stuff too much."