Big 12 Football: 5 dark horse candidates for 2021 Heisman

Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State football Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State football Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Which Big 12 football player is a dark horse for the Heisman Memorial Trophy? Let’s look at the conference’s candidates for the 2021 season.

The Heisman Memorial Trophy is an individual award, presented to college football’s best player every season – and rarely is that player on a bad team. Only twice since 2010 has the winner of the Heisman Trophy been on a team that lost three or more games (Robert Griffin III, Baylor; Lamar Jackson, Louisville). Which Big 12 football players could face a similar fate this upcoming season?

RELATED: How many quarterbacks have won the Heisman Memorial Trophy?

There is a handful of legitimate Heisman contenders from the Big 12 and we’ll get to them in Part 2. But for this iteration, we’re giving you the dark horse candidates. These are the players flying under the radar. And some will be studs, but play for teams on the outside looking into the postseason picture. Before we get to the future, though, let’s look at every Big 12 Heisman winner since 2000.

  • Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma (2018)
  • Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (2017)
  • Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (2011)
  • Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma (2008)
  • Jason White, QB, Oklahoma (2003)
  • Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska (2000)

If there’s one takeaway from the above list, it should be that quarterbacks have the best chance to win the award. Historically, quarterbacks only own 37 total Heismans, but they’ve captured 17 of the last 21. Only DeVonta Smith (2020), Derrick Henry (2015), Mark Ingram (2009), and Reggie Bush (2005) have won the Heisman in the 21st-century as a non-quarterback.

Luckily, the Big 12 boasts some experienced gunslingers (and others) for the upcoming campaign that we’re going to list (in no particular order). The first one we’ll discuss is a multi-year starter, but the 2021 season will have a brand new feel for the junior Cowboy.