USC football quarterback Kedon Slovis is a dark horse Heisman contender.
USC football has seven Heisman Trophy winners in its illustrious history. Could another be coming down the line sooner than later?
The buzz around quarterback Kedon Slovis seems to be pointing to that possibility.
The Trojan passer was mentioned in two Heisman discussions to start this week.
Kedon Slovis could bring the Heisman back to USC football
The first was from Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports, who listed Slovis as one of his “best dark-horse candidates to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy” on Monday.
Fornelli pointed out how the likes of Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston were hardly Heisman favorites the year they picked up the most coveted award in college football.
Maybe Slovis is the next to pull off that feat.
The argument for Fornelli hinges on Slovis’ outstanding numbers: His passer rating in 2019 was seventh nationally. His completion rate was third nationally. His on-target rate was fourth nationally.
Those stats were as close to approaching Joe Burrow as anyone in the country.
Others also seem to recognize the possibilities for Slovis.
Specific to Burrow, the staff over at The Athletic acknowledged the LSU quarterbacks’ 200-to-1 Heisman odds coming into the 2019 season didn’t seem to account for LSU’s returning talent on offense and the trajectory of his production.
They set out to find the next Heisman winner with that in mind, conducting a staff draft of all of the potential candidates.
Slovis wasn’t the first pick off the board by any stretch. Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler, Georgia’s Jamie Newman and Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan were picked up by Matt Fortuna, Bruce Feldman, Nicole Auerbach, Max Olson and Andy Staples in that order.
With Stewart Mandel picking sixth, Slovis got his mention.
Mandel’s reasoning was simple: “A) He’s really, really good (72 percent completion, 3,502 yards as a freshman); B) He plays for a glamour program that should at least contend for its conference title; and C) He’ll have a big audience watching him opening night when USC plays Alabama. The Trojans won’t win, but Slovis could have a big game.”
What Mandel doesn’t mention are all the ways Slovis and Burrow’s situations match up.
Like Burrow, Slovis has a bunch of talented playmakers returning on offense. He also has a gifted offensive coaching staff pulling the strings and is coming off a strong finish to the previous season.
The biggest discrepancy between Burrow and Slovis is how much better Slovis was in 2019 than Burrow was in 2018. The future Heisman winner threw for 2,894 yards and 16 touchdowns the year before he blew up. He completed just 57.8 percent of his passes and posted a passer rating of 133.21. Those are pedestrian numbers compared to Slovis’ 3,502 yards with 30 touchdowns on 71.9 percent passing. Slovis’ passer rating was 167.65.
Burrow needed Joe Brady to ramp up LSU’s offense in 2019, but Slovis already has Graham Harrell in place.
We’re not saying Slovis will win the Heisman in 2020. We’re not even saying USC as a team will put in Slovis in position to even get mentioned. But the potential is undoubtedly there.