When Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield took home the Heisman Trophy last Saturday night, many people in the college football world were already looking ahead to some of the likely Heisman candidates for 2018.
One name that will be on everyone’s preseason list is Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.
And according to his new coach, Mario Cristobal, the attention is well deserved.
“It’s awesome,” Cristobal told Ryan Thorburn of the Register-Guard. “I know if I’m a football player, I want to play with Heisman Trophy candidates, especially one as young as he is.
“To me, it’s a credit to him and those around him. It gets everybody juiced up. We love it.”
Oregon’s offense with Herbert at the helm this season was devastating. He was 6-1 as a starter and the team averaged 52 points per game, which led the nation. Without him, the Ducks fell to 1-4 and averaged 15 points per contest.
Herbert finished the regular season third in the nation in quarterback rating (trailing only Mayfield and UCF’s McKenzie Milton). He also was third in the nation in yards per attempt. He’ll be among the top quarterbacks returning next season if Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold declare for the NFL draft.
“I haven’t seen too much of it,” Herbert told Thorburn of the Heisman rumors. “But if that’s the case, it’s pretty cool. We’ll finish this [bowl] game and then get into the offseason.”
Through 14 games in two seasons at Oregon, Herbert has thrown for 3,686 yards and 32 touchdowns. By comparison, Oregon legend and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, who led some of the best offensive teams in the nation during his time in Eugene, had 2,911 yards passing and 33 touchdowns through his first 14 games.
“There’s just no downside,” Cristobal told Thorburn. “He’s an elite talent, he’s an elite human being, an elite teammate, a colleague, a competitor. He’s got it all, yet he’s as humble as a humble person can be.”