Justin Fields, Chase Young give Ohio State two Heisman Trophy finalists
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young will join LSU quarterback Joe Burrow at the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York on Saturday.
They were among four finalists for the award announced Monday, along with Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts.
It’s the seventh time that two players from the same team have been invited to the ceremony, a practice that began in 1982, and marks the first time there was a player each from offense and defense.
Burrow, who spent his first three college seasons at Ohio State before transferring as a graduate and playing two seasons for the Tigers, is the heavy favorite.
If the season ended now, Burrow would hold a Football Bowl Subdivision record with a completion percentage of 77.9%. In leading unbeaten LSU to its first Southeastern Conference championship since 2011, as well as the top seed for the College Football Playoff, Burrow has thrown for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns with six interceptions in his final year of college eligibility.
Fields, a sophomore, mounted perhaps the most compelling case after Burrow with a 40-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, the best in the nation, and helped the Buckeyes secure a spot in the playoff after a two-season absence. Ohio State is seeded second.
But some of Fields’ volume statistics trail previous Heisman Trophy winners. Since Ohio State’s Troy Smith, who won the Heisman in 2006, every quarterback to win the award has thrown for at least 3,000 yards or run for 1,000 yards. Through 13 games, Fields has completed 67.5% of his passes for 2,953 yards and run for 471 yards and 10 touchdowns.
During the final weeks of the regular season, Ohio State coach Ryan Day mentioned that Fields was shortchanged playing time because the Buckeyes so often built big early leads and rested their starters. Fields attempted only 28 passes in the fourth quarter all season.
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, the nation’s third-leading rusher, faced a similar obstacle and was not included among the finalists.
“Maybe they haven’t had as many reps or opportunities as some of the other guys in the country,” Day said last week. “Their efficiency on the field to me has been the best in the country.”
Young, the Buckeyes’ star pass rusher, leads the nation with 16.5 sacks and mounted a rare candidacy as a defensive player, but his momentum was stalled when the junior was suspended for two games last month related to an NCAA rules violation and did not record a sack in the past two games.
No purely defensive player has won the Heisman Trophy since it was established in 1935. But Young made a case compelling enough that he became only the fourth defensive lineman invited to the ceremony since 1982, joining Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh (2009), Miami's Warren Sapp (1994) and Washington's Steve Emtman (1991).
None of them finished higher than fourth in the final voting.
Previous teams with multiple players to attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony include Oklahoma with quarterback Baker Mayfield and receiver Dede Westbrook in 2016; Southern California with quarterback Matt Leinart and running back Reggie Bush in 2004 and 2005; Oklahoma with quarterback Jason White and running back Adrian Peterson in 2004; Miami with quarterback Ken Dorsey and running back Willis McGahee in 2002; and Penn State with quarterback Kerry Collins and running back Ki-Jana Carter in 1994.