ESPN experts: Andrea Adelson, Edward Aschoff, Brian Bennett, Rece Davis, Chris Low, Ivan Maisel, Ted Miller, Mark Schlabach, Mitch Sherman and Jake Trotter
All Watson did as a sophomore was become the first player in FBS history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Watson shredded Alabama's vaunted defense for 478 yards of total offense in a 45-40 loss in the national championship. No wonder Alabama's Nick Saban gushed this offseason that Watson was the most dominant player his team had played since Cam Newton. Watson was third in the Heisman Trophy voting a year ago and has the kind of talent around him to have another huge season in 2016.
The Heisman Trophy runner-up a year ago, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders' single-season record for all-purpose yardage and finished with 3,864 yards, which was 1,200 more than anybody else in the FBS ranks. McCaffrey rushed for 2,019 yards and scored touchdowns five different ways -- running, passing, receiving, on a kickoff return and on a punt return. He was unstoppable in his last two games, with 461 all-purpose yards -- the fifth-highest total in the history of college football -- in a Pac-12 championship win over USC and 368 yards in a Rose Bowl rout of Iowa.
Fournette possesses a rare blend of size, speed and power, and despite defenses loading the box to stop him week in and week out, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound bulldozer set LSU records with 1,953 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns last season. Guys that big simply aren't supposed to be that explosive. Fournette was the front runner to win the Heisman last season heading into the Alabama game on Nov. 7 but was held to 31 yards on 19 carries in a 30-16 loss to the Tide. Even so, Fournette still led the country with an average of 162.8 rushing yards per game.
After starting his career as a walk-on at Texas Tech, Mayfield was sensational a year ago in his debut season at Oklahoma. He accounted for 43 touchdowns and led the Sooners to a Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff appearance. Mayfield's never-say-die playing style was a rallying point for his teammates. He never gives up on a play and also plays with a giant chip on his shoulder after being overlooked coming out of high school. He came out of nowhere to finish fourth in the Heisman race last year and will be right back in the conversation in 2016.
Everywhere you look this season in college football, there are great running backs. The 5-foot-11, 213-pound Cook is right there with any of them. He rushed for 1,691 yards last season and is also effective catching the ball out of the backfield. One of college football's most feared big-play threats, Cook had 1,066 of his yards on runs of 15 yards or longer. When he gets just a little bit of space, he's a touchdown waiting to happen with his shiftiness, ability to break tackles and raw speed. The Seminoles are sure to be in the national title picture again, and Cook's name will be mentioned prominently in Heisman talk.