How Trace McSorley Stacks Up With Recent Heisman Winners

By Matthew Filipovits on June 7, 2018 at 11:00 am
Penn State Quarterback Trace McSorley Heisman Hopeful

© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports


Earlier this week, former ESPN analyst and Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer declared Trace McSorley as his Heisman front-runner. That got us thinking, could it happen and how does McSorley stack up to the recent quarterbacks to take home the trophy?

For starters, let's define recent. For this exercise, we'll consider the seven quarterbacks who have won the Heisman this decade. 

Those quarterbacks are:

  • Cam Newton - 2010
  • Robert Griffin III - 2011
  • Matt McGloin Johnny Manziel - 2012
  • Jameis Winston - 2013
  • Marcus Mariota - 2014
  • Lamar Jackson - 2016
  • Baker Mayfield - 2017

Right off the bat, that's some pretty elite company. Each quarterback was a first round pick, but oddly enough only Newton and Winston brought home national titles in their respective Heisman years.

Alright, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

  Passing Yards Passing Touchdowns Completion % PER
Trace McSorley 3570 28 66.5 153.7
Baker Mayfield 4627 43 70.5 198.9
lamar Jackson 3543 30 56.2 148.8
Marcus Mariota 4454 42 68.3 181.7
Jameis Winston 4057 40 66.9 184.8
Johnny Manziel 3706 26 68.0 155.3
robert Griffin III 4293 37 72.4 189.5
Cam Newton 2854 30 66.1 182.0

So things don't look great for McSorley right now. His 2017 stats would put him second last in touchdown passes and PER and third last in passing yards and completion percentage. Let's give this thing some context shall we?

McSorley attempted 427 passes last season, the third most of the field. That may seem high but there is a strong chance that he will top that number this season. After all, he shared a backfield with Saquon Barkley. When you share a backfield with Saquon Barkley, you're going to forfeit some of your pass attempts in favor of generational talent. 

Cam Newton made his money as a runner in college (we'll touch on that in a bit), as made evident by the fact that his 280 pass attempts were the fewest by more than 100. Baker Mayfield and Marcus Mariota put up two of the best seasons we've ever seen for quarterbacks in their Heisman years. With these three as slight outliers, McSorley falls right into place with the rest of the field. 

McSorley is clearly in the same ballpark as these winners. With Barkley gone, a good blend of new and experienced pass catchers, and what should be the best line of the Franklin era, it's easy to see where the Heisman hype is coming from.

Heisman voters have loved dual-threat quarterbacks this decade. That describes Trace McSorley very well.

  rushing attempts Rushing yards rushing touchdowns
Trace McSorley 144 491 11
Baker Mayfield 97 311 5
Lamar Jackson 260 1571 21
Marcus mariota 135 770 15
Jameis Winston 88 219 4
Johnny Manziel 201 1410 21
robert Griffin III 179 699 10
Cam newton 264 1473 20

McSorley lands right down the middle. He ran the ball a lot, a byproduct of defense keying in on Saquon Barkley on option plays. His big-play ability was mostly isolated to the passing game but he did a lot of damage with his legs in the red zone.

Now let's take a look a quick peek into some of the underappreciated stats that directly impact McSorley's success. He threw 10 interceptions and lost one fumble last season and for those who don't have a calculator nearby that adds up to 11 total turnovers. That puts him below more than half of these quarterbacks. 

Remember when we said this year's line will be the best of the Franklin era? Well, Trace McSorley needs them to be. The line may have been solid last year, but the 27 times McSorley was sacked is was tied for third most on this list. If he's given a clean pocket or even just a little more time to extend plays, he's shown what he can do. 

So the numbers show that with a reasonable jump in production in 2018, McSorley at least has a chance to be in the Heisman conversation this fall.

Do you think McSorley has a realistic shot? Let us know in the comments.

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