USC Football: Who has the best chance to win the Heisman Trophy in 2018?

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

Who could be the next Heisman Trophy winner for USC Football? Oddsmakers aren’t expecting a Trojan to rise in 2018, but there are some dark horse candidates.

Early odds to win the Heisman Trophy for 2018 dropped on Tuesday, but oddsmakers from Bovada don’t predict any USC Football players to be in the running for college football’s most prestigious award.

That’s quite the change from last year, when Sam Darnold was the early favorite to bring home the bronze statue. Only, that hype didn’t exactly work out for him. It rarely foes for the preseason Heisman favorite.

This year, it’s Stanford’s Bryce Love who will wear the crown at 7/1, followed closely by Wisconsin’s Johnathan Taylor at 8/1, Arizona’s Khalil Tate at 9/1.

That means USC will open the 2018 season with a September slate featuring two of the top three Heisman Trophy favorites, traveling to face both Love and Tate.

But the Trojans could bring their own Heisman Trophy candidates to the table, dark horse candidates as they may be.

Who has the best chance of emerging from USC’s 2018 lineup to command attention from Heisman voters?

Maybe it’s incoming quarterback JT Daniels. Sure, no true freshman has ever won the Heisman, but a decade ago the idea of a even a sophomore taking home the trophy was unheard of. How things have changed. Since 2007, more redshirt freshmen and sophomores have won it than juniors and seniors.

Jake Fromm’s 2017 performance with Georgia is proof enough that players are more and more prepared to shine even right out of high school.

Still, it would take a truly exceptional start from Daniels to break that barrier. A true freshman will eventually win the award, that much is certain. But let’s shelve Daniels’ chances until he wins the starting job.

Other options? There’s always cornerback Jack Jones, who stated his intention to win the Heisman at USC, though things haven’t exactly worked out as planned through a sometimes shaky first two years in cardinal and gold.

What about receiver Tyler Vaughns, who was USC’s second-leading receiver as a redshirt freshman and has all the tools to become the next big Trojan pass catcher? A freshman will probably win a Heisman before a receiver does it again.

No, the Trojans best bet to make a Heisman splash in 2018 wears No. 7.

Running back Stephen Carr’s September start was mouthwatering enough to suggest he could be in the Heisman discussion soon enough. His all-around game already developed, the freshman proved he could run between the tackles, break off long runs outside, catch the ball out of the backfield and block.

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Racking up 298 yards in USC’s first three games with an average of 6.34 yards per carry, Carr was on pace to break Ronald Jones II recently attained Trojan freshman rushing record. However, he suffered a foot injury against Washington State and missed the next four games of the year. With the injury still slowing him into November, he was a limited part of USC’s offense for the rest of the year, getting only 13 more carries.

That may make any Heisman talk extremely premature. Carr not only has to prove that the first four games of his career weren’t just beginners luck, but he’ll have to sustain success across a full season while carrying the load for the rushing attack.

Still, that’s also exactly why Carr is USC’s best hope of an out-of-left-field Heisman run. Sam Darnold’s departure means the Trojans will be starting an inexperienced quarterback. The incentive to build the offense around the run game will be strong, especially with four returning starters on the offensive line and a star like Carr in the backfield.

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Mark Ingram wasn’t given odds to win the Heisman ahead of the 2009 season after a bright start to his career as a backup behind Glen Coffee. He broke out as a sophomore star leading the Alabama offense. That’s what Carr needs to do in 2018.