I understand many people are looking towards Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields to take home the Heisman trophy next season, and I get it and completely understand it. Two of the most transcendent and talented quarterback prospects to come around in a long time would arguably be the focus of today’s college football scene.
However, I prefer to take a look at a player who may have flown under the radar to some, and may be at the forefront of the “best player in college football conversation” for others, and that player is Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Jaylen Waddle. Waddle is entering his junior year, and is expected to be one of the first receivers off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft next April, and rightfully so.
Despite that high projection next season, there’s no reason that Waddle can’t be a serious competitor for next season’s Heisman Trophy award, the highest college football honor that any player can receive. I understand that a receiver hasn’t won the award since Desmond Howard, however, Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry have won it as running backs so can’t tell me that the Heisman Trophy is strictly a quarterback award.
In a crowded wide receiver room that included Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Devonta Smith, Waddle had a quiet but highly impressive year recording 33 catches, 560 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 17 yards per catch, a VERY impressive season when you factor in the circumstances. If 17 yards per catch doesn’t show you how dynamic this guy is, feel free to watch it with your own eyes. This is the same highlight I posted for him during my earlier 2021 NFL mock draft piece that you should go check out.
If you can’t tell, Waddle is as fast as they come, I’m talking Henry Ruggs/Tyreek Hill caliber fast, I’m really excited to see what his 40 time at the combine looks like next year. The playmakers who can turn those 5-yard slants into 50-yard touchdowns are as dangerous as they come, and Waddle is no different. He’s demonstrated home run ability on the short, intermediate and long routes, the screens and even has the potential to simply just run by his defenders up the seam for the score.
He’s primarily a slot receiver due to his size (5’10, 182 pounds), but is simply one of the best at what he does, and if that wasn’t entertaining enough to hear, he’s always a big play waiting to happen on kick and punt return. If anything has surprised me, it’s the fact they haven’t used him on many end around plays, or created any wildcat packages for him because he’s more than capable of filling those roles. This is the type of player you eventually pay over $50 million in the league, simply because of his versatility and ability to score from anywhere on the field, something two of his former teammates demonstrated last season that got them selected in the first round of the draft this year.
I understand Lawrence and Fields may be at the forefront of the Heisman Trophy conversation next year, and for good reason believe me I know all about it, but you’d be stupid to ignore this guy when it comes to potential breakout campaigns next year. Sure his odds are 100-1 to win the award as of now, but let’s see just how long those numbers hold up when he’s starting for a full season with the Crimson Tide. This guy excites the hell out of me, and this will definitely need to be one of the articles you bookmark and come back to when you realized “ Hey, didn’t some random motherfucker with Vendetta Sports call this shit a while back?”.