Gators’ Kyle Trask is a Heisman Trophy finalist

Florida’s star quarterback is vying to be the program’s fourth winner, after Tim Tebow, Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier.
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask set Gators records in passing yard and touchdowns.
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask set Gators records in passing yard and touchdowns. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Dec. 25, 2020|Updated Dec. 25, 2020

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has added another accolade to his prolific college career: Heisman Trophy finalist.

Trask was announced Thursday night as one of the remaining contenders for the most prestigious individual award in college sports. The other finalists: Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith.

Gators tight end Kyle Pitts finished 10th in the voting.

Trask’s numbers rank among the best in the country. The Texas native led the nation with 46 total touchdowns. His 43 passing touchdowns broke Danny Wuerffel’s single-season record at Florida and are 11 more than any other player this year.

Related: Why Florida’s Kyle Trask is a game-managing star

The redshirt senior also leads the nation with 4,125 passing yards, making him the first 4,000-yard passer the Gators have had. He was also in the top 10 in completion percentage and passing efficiency for an 8-3 team that won the SEC East and is headed for the Cotton Bowl.

The accomplishment continues one of the most remarkable stories in UF history. Trask went from an overlooked, backup passer at Manvel High to an overlooked, backup passer with the Gators. He didn’t earn his first start until the 2019 season, when Feleipe Franks suffered a season-ending ankle injury at Kentucky. Trask took over and blossomed into one of the top passers in Florida history.

Trask is vying to become the Gators’ fourth Heisman winner, joining Tim Tebow (2007), Wuerffel (1996) and Steve Spurrier (1966). The Gators, who haven’t had a finalist since Tebow in ’09, are tied with Auburn for the most Heisman winners in the SEC. Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma have seven apiece, tied for the most by any school.

This will be the 10th time a Florida player has finished in the top six in voting. The others, aside from the winners:

• Fullback Jimmy DuBose (sixth, 1975).

• Quarterback Shane Matthews (fifth, 1991).

• Wuerffel (third, 1995).

• Rex Grossman (second, 2001).

• Tebow (third in 2008, fifth in 2009).

The winner will be announced Jan. 5 during a virtual ceremony on ESPN. The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the usual trip to New York for the trophy presentation that usually comes with being a finalist.

Jones and Smith are the eighth set of teammates to be finalists together since the tradition started in 1982. Smith is trying to become the first receiver to win the Heisman since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.

If it isn’t Smith, who leads the nation in receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,511), the winner will be a quarterback for the 13th time in the past 15 years.

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Jones leads the nation in efficiency rating (202.34), completion percentage (76.5) and yards per pass (11.4), with 32 touchdown passes.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide plays No. 4 Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinals on Jan. 1.

Jones or Smith would become Alabama’s third Heisman winner, but the first that is not a running back. Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) were the Tide’s first Heisman winners.

Lawrence was the preseason favorite to win the award, but missing two games after contracting COVID-19 slowed his campaign. The junior and presumptive first selection in the NFL draft did not play against Boston College and at Notre Dame.

He did play in the ACC championship rematch against the Fighting Irish last weekend and led the Tigers to a blowout victory. On the season, Lawrence has thrown for 2,753 yards and 22 touchdowns in nine games, helping Clemson reach the playoff for the third time in his career.

No. 2 Clemson plays No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl semifinals on Jan. 1. Lawrence would be the Tigers’ first Heisman winner.

The rest of the top 10, starting at No. 5: Alabama running back Najee Harris, followed by Iowa State running back Breece Hall, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book and Florida’s Pitts. Pitts is the first tight end to finish in the top 10 of the Heisman voting since Notre Dame’s Ken MacAfee was third in 1977.

The Crimson Tide is the second team to have three players in the top five in Heisman voting. In 1946, Army running back Glenn Davis won the Heisman, fellow running back Doc Blanchard finished fourth and quarterback Arnold Tucker was fifth.

Information from Times news services was used in this report.