The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected The Heisman Trophy Race

Coming into the 2020 CFB season, there were many challenges, inevitable positive COVID tests and exhausting protocols that players and coaching staffs knew they would have to hurdle.

Every football team that takes the field is well aware of the uncertainty of these unprecedented times. About the closest thing to certainty was the likelihood that Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence would win the Heisman Trophy and be the No. 1overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The award was pretty much in the bag for Lawrence when he stepped onto the field for his junior year at Clemson. In light of recent events, however, the race has taken somewhat of a detour as Lawrence has tested positive for COVID-19.

He now must quarantine for at least ten days and then pass three successive tests to be cleared and return to the facility and around his teammates. If this doesn’t go as planned it’s a 21-day quarantine.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Meaning, he’d miss the big game at No. 4 Notre Dame on November 7th. That’s the type of game that secures the Heisman for you. Lawrence had a huge game earlier in the season when the Tigers demolished then #7 ranked Miami, but he hadn’t exactly locked down the trophy. Highlight performances against Top 10 teams in the country is a true barometer of a leading Heisman candidate’s greatness.

The wrong loss late in the season can instantly change the fortunes of a Heisman hopeful overnight. That being said, Lawrence’s absence against Notre Dame and the uncertainty of his return, truly helps guys like Justin Fields (Ohio St) and Mac Jones (Alabama) get back into the race.

Some CFB insiders have agreed, saying Fields is positioned to take advantage of Lawrence’s absence. Lawrence and Jones started their seasons in late September while Fields just began his last week. Fields holds the advantage of being fresh on the eyes of the viewers and voters. His best highlights are ahead of him. Lawrence and Jones have already been nitpicked by the analysts for every little thing they believe that player failed to do in a particular game.

We Want To Play

Lawrence and Fields were vocal leaders who spearheaded the charge to still have a season amongst uncertainty caused by a pandemic. Remember Fields started the “We Want To Play” campaign as the “BIG10 originally canceled its season. Only to come back and create a modified 8 game season after much pushback.

That helps both for sure. At this point, the odds still favor Lawrence.

In the end, I expect all three of these dynamic signal-callers to be finalists for the award and I like the chances of Justin Fields to win it if Lawrence can’t return in 21 days.

Mac Jones has a shot but his teammate Najee Harris is on a tear as well and will probably split the Alabam vote. Jones won’t have as many opportunities to stat pad and increase his Heisman chances. But overall, there’s a slight opening for one of the underdogs to jet past Lawrence if the 6-foot-6 generational talent doesn’t return anytime soon or has complications with his COVID recovery.