Auburn Tigers running back Kamryn Pettway enjoyed a breakout season in 2016. A bulldozer of a back—he stands 6 feet tall and weighs 240 pounds—ran for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns.
As a result, the expectations surrounding Pettway couldn’t be set any higher for 2017.
The Tigers are five months away from opening their 2017 season. The Heisman Trophy ceremony is eight months away. Even with all this time to spare, Las Vegas believes Pettway has a chance to make it to New York this upcoming year.
On April 9, the Las Vegas Superbook released its opening odds for the 2017 Heisman Trophy and Pettway was labeled with 30-to-1 odds to make it to New York. Pettway was established with the fifth-best chance from the SEC to win the most prestigious individual award in the college football.
With that said, could Pettway truly make a case to be a finalist for the Heisman in 2017?
Pettway is seen as a long shot for the Heisman. There are 13 other players in front of him with better odds including: Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts and several other SEC running backs (Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough, LSU’s Derrius Guice and Georgia’s Nick Chubb).
This isn’t the first time Pettway’s name has been linked to the Heisman. After Auburn’s dismantling of Ole Miss—the Tigers won 40-29—his teammates, coaches and even Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl tweeted out the hashtag “#PettwayForHeisman”.
It was easy to see why people were tweeting their support of the idea as Pettway had a career night—which was a phrase that had been repeated for three straight weeks—rushing for 236 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
While he did gain some love to be seen as a contender for the trophy, injuries derailed any of his chances to gain legitimate steam. He didn’t play in Auburn’s 13-7 loss to Georgia or in the Tigers 55-0 win over Alabama A&M. Pettway was also held to 17 yards on 12 carries against Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
He was held out Auburn’s A-Day spring game because he is finally healthy and head coach Gus Malzahn wants to keep it that way heading into the fall.
The bell cow back led the SEC and was 11th in the nation with 122.4 yards per game. Imagine what a healthy, full 12 game Pettway can do? He could put up some ridiculous numbers.
While Pettway could possibly video game like statistics on the ground in 2017, he will need to improve on his receiving abilities. Last season, Pettway only tallied two receptions for 14 yards. Looking at the past three running backs who have won the Heisman (Reggie Bush in 2005, Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015), all three posted 90 or more receiving yards during the years they won the award (Bush at 478 yards, Ingram at 334 and Henry at 91). However, it seems like Pettway will be included in Auburn’s passing game more often this upcoming season. If Pettway could reach the 150-to-200 receiving yard mark, his Heisman chances should strengthen.
Although Pettway could put up Heisman type numbers in 2017, his candidacy rests on the performance of Auburn as a whole. The more winning the Tigers do this upcoming season, the stronger Pettway’s case strengthens. Looking at Auburn in 2017, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the team that it maybe Alabama’s biggest threat in the SEC West.
No doubt that Auburn is Alabama's primary threat in the SEC West.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) April 8, 2017
With 2016 Heisman winner and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson returning along with Heisman finalist Oklahoma signal caller Baker Mayfield and others returning, Kamryn Pettway is definitely on the outside looking in. However, never say never when it comes to Pettway for Heisman.