The 2021 Heisman Trophy finalists were revealed Monday night with four players still in the running for college football’s most prestigious award.
The finalists are Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Those four are invited to New York City for Saturday’s Heisman Trophy ceremony where the winner will be revealed.
Only one defensive player has ever won the Heisman (Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997), but this year there is one player — Hutchinson — who could potentially become the second. Over the past 50 seasons, only 13 defensive players have finished in the top five of the Heisman voting. The most recent was Ohio State's Chase Young in 2019.
The 57 living Heisman winners and hundreds of media members vote for the award by selecting three players on their ballot. A first-place vote is worth three points, a second-place vote is worth two points and a third-place vote is worth one point. Votes were due Monday at 5 p.m. ET.
Here is more about each of this year’s finalists, listed alphabetically:
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
It’s been a special season for No. 2 Michigan and Aidan Hutchinson has been UM’s best player. Hutchinson has been wreaking havoc for opposing offenses by relentlessly rushing off the edge on a down-to-down basis. Hutchinson has 55 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks and has been at his best in big games. Most notably, Hutchinson had three sacks in Michigan’s win over Ohio State — a win that clinched the Big Ten East title and snapped UM’s losing streak to the Buckeyes.
Odds at BetMGM: +1600
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Kenny Pickett’s ascendance from middle of the road ACC starter to one of the best quarterbacks in the country has been remarkable. Pickett led Pitt to its first ACC championship and accumulated 4,319 yards (No. 5 nationally) and 42 touchdowns passing (No. 3) along the way, breaking several of Dan Marino’s program records. Pickett has eight 300-yard passing efforts this season and is completing 67.2% of his throws.
Odds at BetMGM: +3000
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
C.J. Stroud put up huge numbers in his first season as Ohio State's starting quarterback. The redshirt freshman threw for 3,862 yards and 38 touchdowns while completing 70.9% of his throws and tossing just five interceptions. Stroud had eight 300-yard outings, including four games where he topped the 400-yard mark. Now he is headed to New York City.
Odds at BetMGM: +4000
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Bryce Young has lived up to his five-star recruit billing in his first season as the starting quarterback at Alabama. Young has shown tremendous feel and mobility in the pocket, incredible accuracy and the ability to tuck it and run when needed. Over the course of the season, Young has thrown for 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He saved his best performances for last, too. He led an epic game-tying, 97-yard TD drive to send the Iron Bowl to overtime and save Alabama’s CFP chances. He then torched the heralded Georgia defense for 421 yards and three touchdowns in the SEC title game.
Odds at BetMGM: -5000
Who got snubbed?
The most notable snub is Alabama linebacker Will Anderson, who leads the country in both tackles for loss (32.5) and sacks (15.5) entering the College Football Playoff.
Other players who have had outstanding seasons include Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III.
Corral, who led Ole Miss to 10 regular seasons for the first time in program history, has 3,339 yards and 20 touchdowns passing along with 597 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Playing on the nation's best defense, the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Davis is a premier run-stuffer who consistently commands double-team blocks and punishes offensive lines whenever he’s out there.
Walker, a transfer from Wake Forest, is second in the country with 1,636 rushing yards and tied for sixth with 18 rushing touchdowns. He topped 100 yards eight times, including going for 197 yards and five touchdowns in MSU’s big win over Michigan.
The Heisman Trust decided ahead of time this year that there would be exactly four finalists. The number of finalists used to vary with a minimum of three. Whether or not more players would be invited to New York City "was determined by how close the fourth-place finisher’s point total is to that of the third place finisher’s, how close the fifth-place finisher’s is to that of the fourth-place finisher’s and so on."