Is Alex Hornibrook a Heisman Trophy Darkhorse?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30: Alex Hornibrook #12 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after winning the MVP trophy of the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30: Alex Hornibrook #12 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after winning the MVP trophy of the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Alex Hornibrook will be the quarterback of one of the best teams in the country. is it good enough to get him to New York?

All eyes will be on Alex Hornibrook this year as he leads the Wisconsin Badgers towards another Big Ten Championship, and hopefully, beyond. The Badgers are one of the best teams in the country, but not always due to quarterback play. Wisconsin went 13-1 last year in spite of Hornibrook’s 25-15 touchdown to interception ratio. He helped win the Orange Bowl with his four-touchdown performance, but was a large part of why Wisconsin struggled at times last season.

Wisconsin’s strength is in the running game and on defense. Any team success will likely be due to those areas of the game. But Hornibrook has the ability to make Wisconsin the best team in the country if he can elevate his play. If that happens, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the Heisman conversation.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm is who I’m going to pick on here. The freshman quarterback had a very strong year at Georgia and almost led the Bulldogs to a national championship. However, his numbers really don’t jump off the page when compared to Hornibrook’s. Both quarterbacks threw for just over 2,600 yards, both completed just over 62% of their passes, and their touchdown passing numbers were nearly identical as Fromm threw 24.

The biggest difference between the two quarterbacks is obviously the turnover rate. Fromm threw only seven interceptions, a total that Hornibrook more than doubled. Fromm also averaged 9.0 yards per attempt to Hornibrook’s 8.3. That difference is slightly less damning.

The reason I bring up Fromm, who has essentially identical numbers to Hornibrook, is because he has significantly higher Heisman odds than Hornibrook at this point in the preseason. They’re the same quarterback, but there’s no love for Hornibrook. Fromm has 12/1 odds, and Hornibrook isn’t even listed.

This isn’t an issue if you don’t think Fromm has any chance at winning the Heisman, but if you think he does, then so does Hornibrook. The only reason Fromm is on the list is that he’s the quarterback of one of the best teams in the country. Georgia doesn’t lean on him to make big plays with his arm, though I’m sure they’d like to, and it didn’t win too many games because of him last year. Much like Wisconsin, Georgia wins with defense and dominating on the ground. If Fromm takes a step forward he can be a Heisman Trophy finalist. But so can Hornibrook.

Related Story. Predicting Alex Hornibrook's stats. light

Hornibrook can’t throw for any more than 10 interceptions next year and expect any Heisman hype. But an increase in pass attempts, trust from the coaching staff, a bevy of talent at the receiver position, a general improvement that comes with experience, and the fact that defenses will beg him to beat them with his arm suggest he’ll have every bit the opportunity to get to the Heisman ceremony and garner some votes. If Hornibrook can post a strong 3,000 yards, approach 30 touchdowns and keep his interception numbers low, plus sprinkle in a Heisman moment or two against a big opponent like Penn State, he should be in the mix.

Next. Breaking down the 2018 schedule. dark

Could you imagine the sight of Hornibrook and Jonathan Taylor in New York? The last time that happened it was when Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush from USC  were both finalists and they led one of the greatest teams in college football history.