Brian Kelly hasn’t seen enough from Deshone Kizer to name him the starting quarterback over Malik Zaire for the 2016 Fighting Irish. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, on the other hand, has seen enough from Kizer to project him to be the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.
In a column on fearless predictions for the 2016 college football season, Jeremiah predicted that the junior quarterback will win the Heisman Trophy in 2016.
DeShone Kizer hasn’t even won the full-time starting QB gig for the Irish but that won’t stop me from making this bold prediction — Kizer will win the Heisman Trophy this season. He will eventually take over as the full-time player at the position and he will post monster numbers for the Irish. The opener against Texas on a Sunday night is the perfect location to launch his campaign. It’s going to happen. Get ready.
Jeremiah’s prediction could be classified as body as well as fearless given Kizer and Zaire will both play against Texas next weekend in the season opener. How Brian Kelly intends on using both quarterbacks remains to be seen, but he has said repeatedly over the last couple weeks that he will play them both against the Longhorns.
Jeremiah’s prediction may not have been that bold had Kizer been named a full time starter by Kelly. As a sophomore last year, Kizer threw 21 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and ran for another 10 touchdowns on the ground. While Kizer benefited from a deep, talented, and experienced wide receiving corps, he still showed much more as a sophomore than anyone could have imagine when Zaire laid on the field in Charlottesville last September with a broken ankle.
If Kizer were to become a full-time starter for Notre Dame early in the season, a run at the Heisman is certainly within the realm of possibility for him. Notre Dame has a favorable schedule and Kizer has all of the tools necessary to put up some gaudy statistics – especially if he is able to cut down on his turnovers and sacks. As a sophomore Kizer forced throws at times and took unnecessary sacks that killed drives.
Standing in Kizer’s way, however, is senior Malik Zaire. While Kizer has the better “measurables”, Zaire might just have the better intangibles. In a very limited body of work, Zaire has yet to turn the ball over in three starts for the Irish. Kizer on the other hand had at least one turnover in eight of his 11 starts last fall.
Notre Dame’s young wide receivers could also make a run at the Heisman for either Notre Dame quarterback should they assume a full time role difficult. The only wide receiver on the roster in 2016 with more than one career reception is Torii Hunter.
Working in the favor of Kizer – or even Zaire should he become a full time starter – is an offensive line that Pro Football Focus rated as the best in all of college football for 2016. The Irish line, even with three new starters, is considered to be an elite unit again this year and should give both quarterbacks plenty of time to throw the football. Notre Dame’s stable of running backs will also give the Notre Dame quarterbacks some favorable match-ups downfield.
Should either QB earn a full time role and lead the Irish to the College Football Playoffs, an appearance in New York City in December for the Heisman presentation wouldn’t be shocking. For now though a two headed monster at quarterback and some question marks that have yet to be answered in the wide receiving corps would seem to make such a run unlikely.
As we saw last year, however, what looks likely in August is rarely still the case in October and November.