QB Drew Allar +2500
The excitement surrounding Drew Allar’s succession at QB following the graduation of the all-time leading passer in Penn State football history Sean Clifford is practically beyond belief. Since 2010, the only quarterback without any starts to have lower preseason Heisman odds was 2019’s Justin Fields. To put the hype around Allar into Penn State’s perspective, Trace McSorely’s lowest preseason Heisman odds were 20-1, as a senior. The closest that former 5-star recruit Christian Hackenberg got to winning a Heisman was being a category heading on a CBS list.
Such scrutiny is both good and bad for a Heisman campaign. It is very difficult to win the award without any preseason exposure. TCU’s Max Duggan was a rare exception, coming out of nowhere to almost win. The last player to win that didn’t have any odds assigned to them was Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2012.
However, such high-intensity focus can sometimes force a player to push to try to make plays. Allar is already going to have a ton of pressure as a first-time starting quarterback, and as the season goes along, that pressure is only going to increase.
Reasons to bet on Allar
There are several reasons that make Allar a viable “dark-horse candidate” for the Heisman. First, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich will be in his third season as OC in Happy Valley. Total yards per game offensively increased from 376.4 in 2021 to 433.6 in 2022. Two previous QBs (2017 Mason Rudolph and 2019 Justin Fields) have finished in the top 10 in voting.
Allar will benefit greatly from the other Heisman Trophy candidate in his backfield, Nick Singleton, as well as Kaytron Allen. Big shocker, Yurcich’s best seasons for his quarterbacks came when they the offense featured a dynamic attack on the ground. Defenses are much more susceptible to the big play when they don’t know where it’s coming from.
Another big benefit is the way the schedule has been constructed. Heisman candidates can have their campaigns ruined with one poor performance. His first start, which will be against a Power 5 team in West Virginia, is at home.
By the time Penn State plays at Ohio State, there stands a very high chance that both teams are undefeated. If he plays well enough before then, Allar wouldn’t even need to have a “video-game”-like game against the Buckeyes to keep his campaign rolling. Getting a win at the Horseshoe would do wonders for voters.