And so Boykin, who owns two pit bulls, looked into exactly how food gets from the slaughterhouse to our fast-food trays. It changed everything. He stopped eating fast food and dropped 20 pounds, Evans and Thamel report, and began taking a more activist stance on his Twitter feed, retweeting photos of mistreated animals at food-processing plants. For example:
Boykin’s pro-animal stance likely will get lots of notice this season, if only because it’s sure to be mentioned in profiles of the Heisman hopeful. And there’s no denying that he’ll be among the favorites after his junior season in 2014, when the former three-star recruit who chose TCU over UTEP threw for 3,901 yards, 33 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 707 yards and eight touchdowns as the Horned Frogs barely missed out on the inaugural college football playoff. This year, TCU has something to prove, and Boykin will be there leading the way.
As for the other Heisman contenders, there is little consensus. As former Heisman Pundit Chris Huston notes over at Heisman.com, there are four returning players who finished in the top 10 in the voting last season — Boykin finished fourth — but those players accounted for just 359 points while appearing on 267 ballots out of 894 tabulated. The last time there were fewer points and ballots returning was 2006.
With that in mind, here are four other players who could win the Heisman this year (the three other top 10 finishers in 2014 besides Boykin, plus one wild card).
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (fifth in 2014 voting)
Yeah, I know Barrett isn’t even ensured of being the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback and that Cardale Jones led Ohio State to the national title last season after Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan. But it’s going to be hard to bench a quarterback who set the Big Ten record with 45 total touchdowns in 2014, especially because Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer would much rather run the spread than any pro-style set. Barrett has the legs for that, rushing for 11 scores in 2014. Jones doesn’t.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (eighth in 2014 voting)
Prescott set 12 single-season school records as a junior for the Bulldogs in 2014, throwing for 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns while also rushing for 986 yards and 14 scores. He has thrown for more than 200 yards and rushed for more than 100 in a game five times, the most of any returning quarterback. But here’s the thing: While Prescott will have lots of skill-position weapons at his disposal, Mississippi State’s defense is a big ol’ question mark this season, especially up front. And if the Bulldogs struggle to keep up in college football’s toughest division, Prescott’s Heisman hopes could go down with them.
Scooby Wright III, LB (!!!!!), Arizona (ninth in 2014 voting)
The exclamation points are well earned, because defensive players always get the shaft in the Heisman race. They’re also well earned because of this: In 2014, Wright ranked in the top five of all FBS players in tackles (163), tackles for loss (29), sacks (14) and forced fumbles (six), and was the first sophomore to be named Pac-12 defensive player of the year. Wright won’t win in 2014 — not unless he’s secretly adding kick-returning duties to his defensive responsibilities — but he should be fun to watch.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (not in 2014 top 10)
Chubb was last seen rushing for 266 yards and two touchdowns against Louisville in last year’s Belk Bowl, and with Todd Gurley off to the NFL, he gets the spotlight all to himself after averaging more than seven yards per carry last season. Chubb started only eight games last season because of Gurley’s on-again/off-again status, but he finished with 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also carried the ball more than 30 times in a game three times.