It is never too early to start handicapping futures bets like who is going to win the 2023 Heisman Trophy. Early odds have come out for the Heisman winner, the winner of the National Championship, and even some significant individual games. A few Penn State football players were included.
At the start of the 2019 season, LSU’s QB Joe Burrow’s Heisman odd’s were as high as 200-1 in some places. The savvy sports “investor” knows that there can be quite a bit of value in spotting potential players in prime positions.
I believe that is exactly what Penn State football has in RB Nick Singleton and QB Drew Allar.
RB Nick Singleton +5000
Currently sitting at odds anywhere from 40-1 to 60-1, Singleton has tremendous value at that number. While much of the hype is surrounding QB Drew Allar, Singleton is practically flying under the betting radar.
Rest assured, defensive coordinators are locked onto the sophomore running back who set the Penn State football freshman record for rushing yards with 1061 yards, 12 rushing TDs, and 11 receptions for another 85 yards and one touchdown.
Even though much of the attention is, again, on Allar, Penn State football’s rushing attack will provide the first-year starting quarterback with stability in the backfield. Now that the running backs are the experienced group in the backfield and the QB is the rookie, expect James Franklin to lean heavily on the Lawn Boys to chew up the yardage and take pressure off of Allar.
While the Heisman winner obviously doesn’t always come from the National Champion, playing on a team that is relevant in the College Football Playoffs significantly increases a player’s chances.
However, Singleton’s incredibly long odds are not without reason. To start with, the Heisman Trophy seems to be the best quarterback in college and not the best player. Since 2000, only four non-quarterback players have won the award (2004 Reggie Bush-RB, 2009 Mark Ingram-RB, 2015 Derrick Henry-RB, and 2020 DeVonta Smith-WR).
Second, Singleton shares his backfield duties with a very capable partner in Kaytron Allen. The sophomore back rushed for 867 yards, and 10 TDs, with 20 receptions and 188 yards along with one receiving TD.
Part of what makes Singleton so spectacular is because of the shared duties, he’s fresher in the latter stages of the game and able to truly exploit tired defenses with his exceptional speed.
However, this luxury drastically reduces the number of carries and yards he could accrue. Allen rushed 167 times last season. While Singleton wouldn’t have gotten all of those carries if Allen wasn’t there, 140 extra rushes don’t seem unreasonable. Singleton’s 6.8 yards per carry would also probably drop, so we’ll reduce that to 6.5. Using those numbers, Singleton would have added 910 yards of rushing alone, not to mention the 10 TDs Allen had.
All of a sudden, you’re talking about a running back posting numbers of 1,971 and 18 TDs, better than Mark Ingram’s 1658 yards and 17 TDs or Reggie Bush’s 1740 yards and 16 TDs.
The final strike against Singleton’s path to the Heisman is Allar himself. Ironically, this is a situation that Penn State has found itself in a few other times. While neither was very close to winning the award, both Todd Blackledge and Curt Warner received first-place nods in the 1982 Heisman voting.
1994, on the surface, seemed to be a different story, as Kerry Collins came in 4th place and Ki-Jana Carter was runner-up to Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam. However, even giving Carter all of Collins’s points would not have been enough to overcome the margin between first and second place.
Having multiple candidates from the same school is extremely detrimental to winning the Heisman. Since 2000, only USC (2004) and Alabama (2020 and 2021) have had two players finish in the top 10 of voting with one of them winning.