'I just don't get it:' Why Desmond Howard feels C.J. Stroud is not the Heisman Trophy favorite

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud heads into the 2022 season as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

But according to one former winner, Stroud should not even be a part of the conversation before his season opener Sept. 3 against Notre Dame.

“I don’t think that anybody should be the frontrunner except Bryce Young because he’s the returning winner of the Heisman," former Michigan wide receiver and 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, who now works as an analyst on ESPN, said Wednesday. "I don’t think that C.J. Stroud or anybody else should be even neck-and-neck right now with Bryce Young.

"When you look at C.J. Stroud, he's going to have some big games. He opens up the season against Notre Dame. That’s a marquee matchup. But just at the beginning, when no games are played, for him to be the favorite, I just don’t get it. I believe Bryce Young to be the frontrunner and everybody else should be starting at the finish line at the same point."

HOW MIGHT EACH TEAM FARE? Record projections for every college football team this season

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RE-RANK: Preseason 1-131 led by Alabama, Ohio State

SPORTS NEWSLETTER: Get the latest news and analysis in your inbox

C.J. Stroud was a 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist

Last season, Stroud finished fourth in the Heisman race behind Alabama quarterback Young, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett. He earned 12 first-place votes, less than Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III, who finished fifth and sixth in the voting, respectively.

During the Heisman Trophy ceremony, as Hutchinson talked about his final regular-season win against Ohio State, former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow jokingly asked Pickett to "please stay there," between the Michigan defensive end and Stroud. Howard then responded, "better than (Stroud's) offensive linemen."

In 12 games in his first season as Ohio State's starting quarterback, Stroud finished with 4,435 passing yards, 44 touchdowns and six interceptions compared to Young's 4,872 passing yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 15 games.

"He’s going to have some marquee games to be able to catch Bryce Young," Howard continued. "But I think Bryce Young right now, for me, as a former winner and a guy who’s a voter, is Bryce Young against the field."

Ohio State opens the 2022 season Sept. 3 against Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. ET.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Desmond Howard feels C.J. Stroud is not 2022 Heisman Trophy favorite