2016-17 will bring great teams, and big stars

Christian McCaffrey leads a strong pack of Heisman hopefuls returning next season

NCAA football 2016

photoshop by Cole Carle

NCAA football 2016

On Monday, January 11, the college football season will come to close yet again. As we watch the Clemson Tigers and the Crimson Tide of Alabama battle it out in the second playoff, many will question the future next season will hold.

This past season was full of excitement at every turn. You never knew what to expect. Teams such as Michigan State, Clemson, Iowa, and Houston brought surprises we did not expect to see. We saw historic coaches end their careers, such as Steve Spurrier, and new eras beginning at schools like Michigan, and Miami. Targeting was taken to the next level, while hitting for the knees resulted in more torn ACLs.

This season proved how this is a game of inches with the Miracle at Michigan. Non-Power 5 teams shined early with schools like Toledo, Memphis, Houston, and Navy all reaching the top 25 at one point. While 2015 was a great season, what will next season bring to college football? What stars pass on the draft to return? Who will leave early? What teams could be a playoff sleeper? And who could win the Heisman?

Some of the things that happened were unbelievable. This was the year where you can’t take things for granted. Like the Michigan-Michigan State game or the FSU-Georgia Tech game.”

— Zach Fries

It is already known that underclassmen such as Notre Dame wideout Will Fuller, nine Buckeyes including QB Jones, Zeke Elliot, and Joey Bosa, and young quarterbacks such as Cal’s Jerrod Goff, and Penn States Hackenburg are all leaving for the draft with years of eligibility left. A full list can be found here.

However, there are still young stars returning to college nation in high hopes of a national title and to get a degree. Iowa defensive back Desmond King, and Wisconsin tailback Corey Clement have told their coaches they intend to return in 2016. King led the Big 10 in interceptions this season with 8 over a 14 game span.

deshaun-watsonAlabama looks to add to their trophy case next year returning a very talented lineup. Although they will most like lose Heisman running back Derrick Henry to the draft, the future sophomore Damien Harris will try to fill those big shoes. The Tide will most likely enter 2016 as the top team in the country, although Clemson led by future junior Deshaun Watson and company might just have something to say about that. The Tigers will return the QB along with talented running back Wayne Gallman. The dynamic running duo will attack the ACC in hopes of returning to the playoff.

Could we see three of the same teams back in the 2017 playoff? It is very possible as Baker Mayfield will return to Bob Stoops’ Sooners. Oklahoma will play Ohio State early in non-conference next season so they will be put to the test early. The Buckeyes will look as the Big Ten Favorite however, there will be many holes and big shoes to fill losing nine players early to the draft.

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 5: Quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to throw under pressure from defensive lineman Jamal Marcus #34 of the Akron Zips September 5, 2015 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Some teams to look out for next year include the Tennessee Vols. Butch Jones has a talented young team down in Knoxville. He will be hunting and testing the SEC gauntlet for his first SEC title. With guys like Dobbs at QB and Hurd at tail this team could bring the Vols back to the good ole’ days. hurdThe Fighting Irish will also bring a very talented young team back. A QB battle between Zaire and Kiser will be the question this off season for the Irish. With linebacker Jaylen Smith thinking of returning to South Bend after a knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, the Irish defense could be very tough.

 

christian mcDon’t worry I have not forgotten, how can you mention the upcoming season without mentioning the fan favorite for the Heisman. Christian McCaffrey will be adding to his records as he looks for another historic season. Other Heisman candidates include Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, LSU RB Leonard Fournette, Florida State RB Dalvin Cook, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, and Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. Fournette was the early favorite in 2015 but was unable to keep his strong season going. Could he run his way through his opponent and earn the trophy next year? Or could Desmond King join Charles Woodson as the only defensive players to hoist the Heisman? Will any freshman shine in their first year? The first week of September can’t come soon enough.

Who id your favorite to win the 2016 Heisman?

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The season will be here before we know it, you can bet many will be thinking “Who’s In?” The road to Tampa starts now.