Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy last season, but was he really the best, most exciting player at the end of the regular season?
Eh, I think there was someone much more exciting to watch in Nick Chubb, who might have been the best player in the country late in the year.
Somehow, this true freshman, who had to replace All-World back Todd Gurley, averaged 165.4 yards per game in his eight starts last year. He finished the season with 1,547 rushing yards after playing sparingly to start the year.
A year older, wiser and stronger, Chubb is the soul of Georgia's offense and he'll start the season as one of the nation's top Heisman Trophy candidates. And you know what, he'll make that trip to New York and take home the bronze statue.
As the best running back in the nation, Chubb will snatch this award away from those quarterback clutches and here are six reasons why:
1. Chubb is a complete back: Chubb's 5-foot-10, 220-pound frame helps him run over defenders, but his agility helps him shift his way around guys. Chubb has a low center of gravity when he runs, but he's also very light on his feet, helping him to average 7.1 yards per carry last season. Chubb drug plenty of defenders along for a few extra yards, but he was also able to break long runs because of his speed and quickness. He registered 41 10-plus-yard runs last year, including an SEC-high 18 20-plus-yard runs. He also flashes versatility in the passing game, catching 18 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Chubb's the one-two punch Heisman voters will love.
2. Chubb has excellent vision: The freight train on two legs doesn't just truck his opponents. His vision is just as useful. He can make defenders look silly by quickly checking out his surroundings to find the right holes or to cut by a looming enemy. This is one reason Chubb was able to lead the SEC with 1,760 yards from scrimmage in 2014. Not even that clunky, oversized helmet restricts his vision.
3. Georgia will be in contention for the SEC title and a playoff spot: Let's face it, if a non-quarterback is going to have a chance at this award, his team has to be great. Luckily for Chubb, the Bulldogs are one of the nation's most complete teams. While they are still looking for a starting quarterback (we'll get to that later), Georgia has a solid group of playmakers to accompany Chubb on offense, and the defense is equipped with the nation's best set of linebackers. Also, the Dawgs are the overwhelming East favorite this year. It's their division to lose, giving Chubb plenty of national spotlight to soak in.
4. Chubb doesn't get tired: Somehow, Chubb never seemed to slow down last year. During his eight starts, he never dipped below 113 yards in a game, and the only reason he finished with that number was because he carried the ball only nine times in a laugher against Charleston Southern. He also had 25 or more carries four times last season, including carrying it 33 times in the bowl win over Louisville for an SEC bowl record 266 yards (8.1 yards per carry).
5. Chubb doesn't feel pressure: When Gurley was suspended in October, Chubb was thrown directly into the fire. All he did in his first career start was carry the ball 38 times for 143 yards and a touchdown in Georgia's 34-0 win at Missouri. A week later he carried it 30 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns. When Gurley returned against Auburn a month later, Chubb didn't waver, rushing for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He capped his season in front of the nation with his record-setting 266 yards against Louisville.
6. Georgia's quarterback situation will mean he's the center of the offense: Georgia's staff is still searching for a starting quarterback, which means that the offense will flow through Chubb. That's great when it comes to a Heisman run. He's the star. He's the life force of this offense, the center of attention and when in doubt, the Dawgs will defer to him. As long as the passing game is a question, the better that will be for Chubb's touches. Stacked defensive boxes? Bring it on. This team didn't throw the ball well last year, and Chubb thrived anyway. He won't have a problem doing it again.