Heisman Trophy finalists 2021: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Aidan Hutchinson, Kenny Pickett heading to New York

by 24USATVDec. 7, 2021, 2 a.m. 30
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The finalists for the 2021 Heisman Trophy were revealed on Monday night, and four of college football's brightest stars have been selected to go to New York for the ceremony. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson made the cut to attend Saturday evening's event following the Army-Navy game. The winner will be announced at 8 p.m. ET.

Throughout much of the season, the Heisman race seemed wide open. Many of the preseason betting favorites, such as Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler and Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, fell off the board before the midway point in the year. That allowed other, lesser-known names like Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III to state their case for college football's most prestigious individual award.

But over the course of a full season, Young, Stroud, Pickett and Hutchinson stood out above the rest in the eyes of the voters. Let's take a closer look at their respective résumés.

Young has been one of the most dominant forces in college football this year. The sophomore signal-caller for the Crimson Tide led his team to yet another SEC championship, throwing for a SEC Championship Game record 431 yards in a dominating win over previously undefeated Georgia. Young has thrown for 4,322 yards, 43 touchdowns and only four interceptions despite inconsistent play from his offensive line. His passer rating of 175.53 is good for fifth best in the nation.

Stroud entered his first year as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback without having thrown a college pass. However, that didn't result in a noticeable learning curve. Stroud threw for 3,862 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions in Ohio State's high-flying offense. Stroud had his team in the College Football Playoff race until the final weekend of the regular season when Michigan's dominant ground attack was the difference in a 42-27 game that decided the Big Ten East Division.

Pickett has been one of college football's most underrated stars in 2021. He led Pitt to its first ACC title, as well as its best season since 1981. With one more win -- the Panthers play Michigan State in the Peach Bowl -- Pitt will tie its highest win total since the undefeated national championship team in 1976. Pickett has thrown for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and his draft stock has risen perhaps faster than any other quarterback in college football.

Hutchinson has been the driving force behind a Michigan defense that is one of the most complete in the country. His 14 sacks are third-most in the nation and the constant pressure he puts on quarterbacks has made him one of the top NFL draft prospects in the country. When the lights were the brightest, Hutchinson was at his best, notching seven of his sacks in November and December against Penn State, Ohio State and Iowa.

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